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Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments (1999)

by François Delamare, Bernard Guineau (Author)

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252181,065 (3.34)3
The science of pigments, hues, and dyes has a long and ancient history. From the 40000-years-old caves at Lascaux and the medieval cloth trade that enriched Europe to the synthetic chemistry of modern times, colour making has had a central place in our lives. This book surveys the history of dyes and pigments, the invention of new colours, and the industries that fuelled them. It explores colouring and dyeing methods through history and asks questions relating to this, such as: what were the colours of Ancient Egypt?; what did artists use to paint their magnificent frescoes?; where do indigo and ochre come from?; why is purple the colour of royalty?; what are pastels?; how many colours are their?; why do we dye our food?; who invented ink?; what are white and black made of?; and what is the symbolism of yellow? This comprehensive text offers information and insights into many colours ranging from cerise to heliotrope, and gamboge to periwinkle.… (more)
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Summary: This slim books gives this history of dyes and pigments, as well as some color chemistry and art history, starting with the earliest uses of ochers and charcoals on cave walls, and moving through today's wide spectrum of synthetic pigments for all conceivable uses.

Review: The best thing I can say about this book is that it was packed with pretty full-color pictures, from pictures of tapestries and mosaics to snippets of illuminated manuscripts to photos of pigment-containing pig bladders. The second-best thing I can say about this book is that it induced one of the best naps I've had in months. The writing style was dry and lifeless, tracking the historical path of pigment use without really telling us much of anything. Most of the book read like: "In the 15th century, red was produced mainly using blah, bling, and blah, but these proved to be too expensive, so blah and blah were gradually introduced instead." That's great, but a listing of the names of pigments doesn't really tell me all that much - it might be more interesting to an artist or art historian, but they probably wouldn't have had much need for this cursory introduction to the field. For the un-knowledgeable layperson (me), however, there wasn't a lot of redeeming features to the text. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Read Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay instead. At most, keep this one around as a picture supplement to that better-written and more thorough introduction to the topic. ( )
1 vote fyrefly98 | Jun 22, 2008 |
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Delamare, FrançoisAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guineau, BernardAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The world in which we live is teeming with color: the sky, earth, water, and fire all have distinct colors.
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The science of pigments, hues, and dyes has a long and ancient history. From the 40000-years-old caves at Lascaux and the medieval cloth trade that enriched Europe to the synthetic chemistry of modern times, colour making has had a central place in our lives. This book surveys the history of dyes and pigments, the invention of new colours, and the industries that fuelled them. It explores colouring and dyeing methods through history and asks questions relating to this, such as: what were the colours of Ancient Egypt?; what did artists use to paint their magnificent frescoes?; where do indigo and ochre come from?; why is purple the colour of royalty?; what are pastels?; how many colours are their?; why do we dye our food?; who invented ink?; what are white and black made of?; and what is the symbolism of yellow? This comprehensive text offers information and insights into many colours ranging from cerise to heliotrope, and gamboge to periwinkle.

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