The Forbes Pigments Collection
by Narayan Khandekar
5th May 2021

The Forbes Pigment Collection was originally amassed over the career of the Museums’ second director Edward Waldo Forbes (director from 1909-1944). In many ways Forbes revolutionized the profession of museology in the early 20th century at the Fogg Art Museum (now included in the Harvard Art Museums), which he considered a Laboratory for Art. In so doing, he laid the foundation of conservation and technical art history as scientific disciplines, which continues today. The pigments and their raw sources are for teaching and as reference standards in order to identify the materials used by artists in making a work of art. At present there are almost 3000 samples and growing and growing. This lecture will examine the formation of the collection, how it is used and will present some recent additions to the collection.

Narayan Khandekar

Narayan Khandekar is the Director of the Straus Centre for Conservation and Technical Studies and the Director of the Centre for Technical Studies of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museums, and Lecturer on the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Melbourne and a Post-graduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Previously he has worked at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University; Melbourne University Gallery; and the Museum Research Laboratory, Getty Conservation Institute. His major interest is the materials and techniques of artists, in particular modern and contemporary artists. He is an author on over sixty publications.

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