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Cyanotypes: secrets of la vie en bleu

Discover the secrets of this deep blue and captivating romance.

Lilie Pinot, The swimmer - Framed cyanotypes, 2022 - Available on Béguinart here

Cyanotype is a chemical process discovered in the 19th century to reveal an image in a deep blue tone. It is an artistic technique appreciated by artists and collectors, because it transmits, beyond its aesthetics, a magical depth, imbued with nostalgia and sweetness.

But how does it work?


The artist applies a light-sensitive mixture containing iron to a support, usually thick paper, but it can also be fabric or glass for example, and lets it dry in the dark. When dry, the surface has a yellow-green colour.


When the prepared surface is exposed to the rays of the sun, the chemistry operates: the exposed surfaces take on the characteristic blue tint by a reaction of iron to UV. The intensity of the blue varies according to the exposure time and the pattern on the surface which one wishes to appear.

Finishing :

After exposure, the iron (yellow-green) that did not react is rinsed off. The cyanotype obtained is then dried in the open air.

The cyanotype may sometimes fade, but don't worry! An amazing feature of cyanotype is its ability to regenerate itself: images that have faded from prolonged exposure to light can often return to their original mood if stored in a dark place.

At Béguinart, we particularly appreciate the romantic sweetness of the cyanotype, and several of our artists practice it: this is the case of Lilie Pinot, as on this work of La Nageuse, but also of Hugo Bel or Marion Mounic.

Do not hesitate to discover their universe and their works!


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