SAFFRON & GOLD IN ART

Saffron

We know saffron as a spice for food – selling for about $8.00 a gram or $1000 a pound - almost as expensive as gold. Saffron is the most expensive food on earth! It takes 100,000 flowers to make a pound. In the Middle Ages artists would sometimes imitate gold by combining powdered tin or silver with saffron. The painter would also add saffron to egg whites (glair), and allow the mixture to infuse. This resulted in a strongly yellow substance that was transparent and could be used for glazing, writing, and manuscript illumination. One type of saffron called Corycian was said to be even more beautiful than gold. Although saffron is now considered less than permanent, it still remains vibrant in many medieval manuscripts that have survived.