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Colour [De-luxe Folio Society book in slip-case] Hardcover – 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: The Folio Society; New edition (2009)
  • ASIN: B0030KQ3EO
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 20 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a writer and journalist and occasional radio presenter... and all my life I've been fascinated by the stories of colours. A couple of years ago the Getty Museum in California asked me to write a book on colours for them... I spent several happy weeks walking their galleries with a magnifying glass, researching ancient books in their library, and talking to their experts... and then a year or so writing it. The book came out November 2014 and called A Brilliant History of Color in Art. There are 166 (colour) illustrations. If the BBC were doing it, they'd probably call it A History of Art in 50 (or so) Colors... because it goes through the whole story of art, from Paleolithic paintings on caves to David Hockney's iPad paintings, telling it through the paints and dyes (and pixels etc) they used.

I first became obsessed with colours when I was eight years old, and my father took me to see a stained glass window in Chartres cathedral and explained how it was created 800 years ago and we were no longer able to make that particular cobalt blue.

Many years later I gave up my day job as Arts Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong - where I lived for 12 years - to write "Colour: Travels Through The Paintbox". It involved going to Afghanistan to visit the lapis mines where ultramarine paint came from, and India for indigo (and a paint made from the urine of cows or buffaloes fed with mango leaves... ) and a dozen other places. My second book followed in 2005, called "Jewels: A Secret History" (though in UK hardback it was originally titled "Buried Treasure". A publisher thing.) For that I made 14 journeys, including one to Cleopatra's almost lost emerald mines.

I moved back to the UK in 2003 and now live near Bath, working for an international environmental charity and writing for various UK and international publications. I appeared as a guest in the first series of BBC Radio 4's "Museum of Curiosities", hosted by John Lloyd (QI) and Bill Bailey; I was talking about Pliny the Elder. In 2009 "Colour" was chosen by Folio to be their gift book of the year. They completely and beautifully redesigned it, spotted a couple of Latin errors, and most splendidly added more than 100 stunning colour illustrations. It is what my first Colour book always wanted to be.

Product Description

A world without colour is unthinkable, and archaeologists have proved that the desire to mimic nature's hues in art is one of the earliest human instincts. In their attempts to create colour, artists, craftsmen and scientists have used every possible source, from the purple tears of sea snails and the blood of crushed beetles, to poisonous white lead and sacred Australian earth. In the process, fortunes have been made and lost, empires flourished and collapsed and our understanding of the world transformed. In this fascinating book, Victoria Finlay traces the astonishing history of man's attempt to reproduce the rainbow - one colour at a time. This is the first extensively illustrated edition of Colour to be published and The Folio Society has spent months inclose consultation with the author researching the perfect illustrations to publish alongside a newly edited text. The result is a thrilling visual exploration of Finlay's subject, from aerial photography of Australia's red centre to chalk frescoes in Pompeii, from Japanese ink drawings to paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Titian and from the mosaics of Byzantium to woven textiles in Mexico. Famous and little-known works of art lie next to dramatic photographs and fascinating prints in this glorious selection of over 100 illustrations.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By FFFF on 28 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a delight on all levels. Victoria Finlay has an obsession with colour, and is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get first-hand experience of the huge range of material that artists through the ages have employed to obtain the most startling effects on panel or canvas. She also has some remarkable insights into the world of dye-stuffs. New ideas appear at every turn - who else, for example, ever thought of the possibility that William Morris's employment of soft greys and blues might well arise from the fact that all the mediaeval wall-hangings that he saw were inevitably faded from their original bright colours? And she is witty with it.
The Folio edition is a delight in itself - sumptuously bound and printed, appropriately full of colour, and a weighty delight to hold in the hand.

Yes, we know that modern pigments with scientific names are more brilliant, more light-fast, and cover a greater range of the spectrum; but here are the ageless delights of lapis and cinnabar and madder and....

Expensive, but a must for all chromaphiles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs M on 8 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A gripping and informative read. Excellent in every way. Particularly pleased I went for the fabulous Folio Soc edition. It's a treat to dip into - and hard to put down.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Starlot on 12 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful and facinating book. As one might expect from Folio, it is beautifully designed and printed with super pictures and top quality materials.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Bridge on 17 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written, produced and illustrated book, totally engaging and informative. I urge anyone with even the vaguest interest in art and it's history to read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Art, history, culture, and chemistry! 13 Mar. 2011
By Sergio - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A marvelous mix of history, culture, chemistry, and the practical, social, and artistic issues of the use of colour. I had no particular interest in the topic based on the title, but, after some strong recommendations, picked up this work and was captivated. It's quite a lengthy tome, but is easy to read a chapter at a time whenever the mood is right. Each chapter focuses on one colour (or black, brown or white), and delves into where pigments and dyes come from, how they are made, the chemical and biological hazards associated with various sources and methods, the related cultural history, the impact of a colour on historical events, etc., ,etc., etc. This book is really loaded with historical, cultural, and scientific insights that will capture the mind regardless of your interest in the subject of colour itself. Highly recommended.
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