The colour blue – reserved for the robes of the holiest of mothers – was one of the rarest and most expensive pigments in use during the Renaissance. For the depiction of Virgin Mary, only ultramarine was used due to its price and elusiveness as it is was found only in Asia and is presently mined in only a handful of places around the world. The name ultramarine was derived from the Italian oltramarion meaning ‘from beyond the sea’ because it was imported from Asia. Made from ground lapis lazuli, the pigment yielded a brilliant hue verging on the violet side rather than the greenish tint commonly found in the substitute colour, azurite.

Pablo Picasso, Still-Life with Cheese, 1944
oil on canvas, Private collection

Completed 40 years after the artist’s infamous ‘Blue Period’, Picasso‘s Still-Life with Cheese depicts a domestic tableaux in a somber palette. The painting, composed with a range of blues and grays punctuated with a dash of yellow, was completed in 1944. At that time, Picasso was living in German-occupied Paris and was ending an almost 10-year liaison with his mistress, both reasons to warrant the subdued painting. Like the Still Life relief of 1914, Picasso looks to the emmental variety of Switzerland to represent cheese because of it’s characteristic holes. The holes enabled Picasso to clearly denote the cheese within the larger compositions of abstract geometric shapes in his paintings.

{Broccoli + Blue Cheese Soup}

Yield: 4 servings

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon butter
2 small potatoes
1 large head of broccoli
1 liter vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt + ground pepper
100 grams of blue cheese
olive oil + fresh herbs for garnish

Finely chop the onion and garlic. Add to a large pot over medium high heat. Add the melted butter and saute until the onions become soft, around 5 minutes. Cube the potatoes and the stalk of the broccoli and add to the pot with the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 mintues.

Chop the flower portion of the head of broccoli and add to the pot. After 2-3 minutes, add the nutmeg, salt + pepper and blue cheese. Stir well and use a hand blender to puree the mixture. Once smooth, spoon into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh herbs.

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The Colour Project