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Books

The Brilliant History of Color in Art

Monday 08/April/2019 - 11:26 AM
Book Cover
Book Cover
Best Art Book of 2014، The Huffington Post

The history of art is inseparable from the history of color. And what a fascinating story they tell together: one that brims with an all-star cast of characters، eye-opening details، and unexpected detours through the annals of human civilization and scientific discovery.

Enter critically acclaimed writer and popular journalist Victoria Finlay، who here takes readers across the globe and over the centuries on an unforgettable tour through the brilliant history of color in art. Written for newcomers to the subject and aspiring young artists alike، Finlay’s quest to uncover the origins and science of color will beguile readers of all ages with its warm and conversational style. Her rich narrative is illustrated in full color throughout with 166 major works of art―most from the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Readers of this book will revel in a treasure trove of fun-filled facts and anecdotes. Were it not for Cleopatra، for instance، purple might not have become the royal color of the Western world. Without Napoleon، the black graphite pencil might never have found its way into the hands of Cézanne. Without mango-eating cows، the sunsets of Turner might have lost their shimmering glow. And were it not for the pigment cobalt blue، the halls of museums worldwide might still be filled with forged Vermeers.

Red ocher، green earth، Indian yellow، lead white―no pigment from the artist’s broad and diverse palette escapes Finlay’s shrewd eye in this breathtaking exploration.


Hardcover: 128 pages
Author: Victoria Finlay
Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1 edition (November 1، 2014)
Language: English
Dimensions: 9 x 0.6 x 10.2 inches

About the Author
Victoria Finlay is the author of Color: A Natural History of the Palette and Jewels: A Secret History. She was formerly arts editor at the South China Morning Post.

Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Who knew that colors have such fascinating stories to tell? Finlay does a wonderful job of describing، in clear، accessible، witty language، how artists around the world، from prehistoric times to the present، have used natural materials، including charcoal، soot، plants، insects، shells، and gems and minerals، to produce magnificent paint and ink colors that continue to dazzle. Today، though، synthetic paints and even computers produce an astonishing range of hues. Browsers and cover-to-cover readers will find some tantalizing information here. For example، Vincent van Gogh once ate his toxic chromium yellow paint; Santa Claus wasn't always clothed in red; thanks to Isaac Newton، there are seven colors in the rainbow; human and animal body wastes were once essential ingredients in color production; and some commonplace colors were created by sheer accident. The handsomely designed book includes 166 excellent reproductions of artworks، many from the collections of Los Angeles's J. Paul Getty Museum. It is filled with illuminating captions and sidebars; reproductions have been perfectly chosen and placed to illustrate the author's narratives; and a "brilliant history of color" is a compelling، readable account of humankind's yearning to express itself beautifully since the beginning of time. An illustration list and lengthy index are included. Recommended for large public library collections and for school libraries; useful in art classes، particularly in units on art historyappreciation، drawing، and painting.—Carol Goldman، Queens Library، NY

"Beautifully illustrated with examples، mostly drawn from the collections of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles، and rich with lesser-known anecdotes from art history، the book succeeds perfectly in walking a fine line between the educational and the entertaining to deliver a wholly satisfying and stimulating perspective. It will please new and veteran artists، those interested in historical tidbits، and newcomers to the field."
—Library Journal

“This colorful volume tells the stories of the major colors in the artist's palette throughout history، from ultramarine to madder red to modern colors، like chrome yellow. Perfect for the student of art or art history، or aspiring or accomplished artist.”—Seattle Times

“This fascinating history of color in art is a real page turner.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Victoria Finlay’s The Brilliant History of Color in Art is a global، historical journey into the origins and science of color. Ever wondered how the first color photograph was created? Where the Lascaux cave painters got their dyes? Or why we call small dots of digital color ‘pixels’? Finlay’s lucid stories are accompanied by gorgeously reprinted art from many of the greatest artists of all time.”—Zocalo Public Square

“A cracking good read.”—Fine Art Connoisseur

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