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Any substance used as a colouring agent, particularly the finely ground particles that when held in suspension in a medium constitute a paint. Most pigments are now manufactured synthetically, but in the past they have been made from a great variety of mineral, plant, and animal sources: the brown colour sepia, for example, comes from the inky secretions of the cuttlefish, and ultramarine blue was originally made from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. The history of pigments is a highly specialized field with little practical importance today for artists who use commercial paints, but it is often vitally important to the expert in relation to authentication and attribution.

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