Scientific American 50, 31.8.1850

In these, the ancients certainly far exceeded the moderns. Sir Humphrey Davy made many efforts to analyze the celebrated Tyrian purple of the East; but those efforts were without success. He declared he could not discover of what it was composed. The Naples yellow, too, though less known, was much used, and the art of making it is now entirely gone. The Tyrian purple is the color of many houses of Pompeii, and they look as fresh as if just painted.

The colors of Titian are equally as vivid and beautiful as when first laid on by the great artist, while those of Sir Joshua Reynolds already look chalky and dead. And Sir Joshua himself confessed, after making it the study of his life, that he had never been able to discover how Raphael and the other great artists had been able to preserve the beauty and brightness of their paintings. But if we marvel at these artists, three centuries back, what shall we say of these paintings found in the tombs of Egypt, more than two thousand years old, and yet kept fresh and bright, though buried for that time beneath the ground, in the damp, dark caves of the East!

The very wife of Solomon is found there, just as she was painted on the eve of departure from her father's home, to share the throne of Judes, and not only the color of her garments were preserved, but the bloom is still on her cheeks and lips, and the lustre in her eyes is even as it then was. Their paintings, too, date as far back as the time of Moses; a portrait supposed to be that of the Nice, the king who drove the Israelites into the Re[a]d Sea, has the colors of it preserved perfectly.

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