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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I don't know about "no greater tale", but this book is a fascinating tale about the science of colour and how colours have been used in art. Its strength is when it talks about the technology and development of colours for paints. Hence the sections on naturally occurring dyes and the development of man-made colours are the best. The final chapters are less...
Published on 9 Jan. 2002

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
The subject is fascinating, the author has carried out loads of research however, he has struggled to organise the fruits of his research so that the book lacks coherency. You think he's starting a line of reasoning only to find it goes nowhere and he's off in a different direction. The final chapters seem to belong to a different book, as it turns into a catalogue of...
Published on 17 Feb. 2009 by Dot (fibre2fabric)


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 9 Jan. 2002
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I don't know about "no greater tale", but this book is a fascinating tale about the science of colour and how colours have been used in art. Its strength is when it talks about the technology and development of colours for paints. Hence the sections on naturally occurring dyes and the development of man-made colours are the best. The final chapters are less interesting, reading at times like lists of art movements. I would have liked to have seen many more colour illustrations, but I suppose the cost would have been prohibitive. I wondered about the organisation, too: the book seemed to jump about a bit, and I found myself referring to the index a great deal to remind myself, say, exactly what Prussian blue was (I think this one was mentioned several times before it was first properly explained). But these are quibbles.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE best book on colour, 6 Nov. 2009
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H. Thomas (Mid-Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
A quite excellent book, heartily recommended. I agree with nearly all the positive comments that previous reviewers have made. It is such a pleasure to read a book about colour that is factual, analytical, logical and based on science, compared with books on the subject written by people on the arts side, which can be inaccurate, woolly, and difficult to tie down. This is one of the few books that I have read 3 times. It does jump about a bit, but there's no other way to present a multidimensional array of info in a linear format.

I do hope that it reaches a second edition, in hardback, longer, with plenty of colour plates and produced to high standards. The author and we deserve it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious fusion of art and science, 28 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
Philip Ball takes you on a fascinating journey of colour through the ages, from the ancient grinding of pigments to the digital creation of hues. You learn how paints and dyes were made and new colours discovered; how printing and photography evolved; the cultural and economic climate in which artists worked; and many more aspects of this ambitious theme. The book is full of quotes, facts, anecdotes, diagrams and copies of artwork. It is for anyone interested in art history, colour theory, chemistry, and materials. A very enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific but not perfect., 6 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
This is in many ways a great book. Covering the history of pigments in the West from antiquity to the present day, it is stuffed full of interesting facts so that every page is filled with something fascinating. Also, at the beginning, there is a intriguing chapter on the science of colour and visual perception which really makes one think about what it is that one sees. However, the book is far from faultless. At times, it feels like a bit of a ramble, threatening to fall apart as it fails to stick completely to the brief it set itself and digresses into a myriad of related topics. In some chapters, this can lead to an almost complete abandoment of the discussion of pigments and colours and becomes instead an art history lesson, breazing through various movements and their defining ethoses. Also, it is very much the history of western colour, there is no discussion of art in Asia, Aboriginal Australia or any other part of the globe where colour was used in abundance. Finally, the author has an irritatingly judgemental view to art. Ironic considering the descriptions he gives to the struggles for recognition of the Impressionists and other movements, he appears to write off a great swathe of art history between the Renaissance and the Pre-Raphelites as dull "mud" with no redeeming features. This sits ill with the book and serves only to cause one to ponder whether mankind is ever complete unless he has something to sneer at. However, despite these faults, the sheer content of the book more than makes up for them and it is a delightful, highly fascinating read, the product of an enormous amount of research!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and science, 10 April 2013
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I read this after a trip to Italy, with several visits to galleries and churches. The fascinating range and depth of detail made appreciation of painting far greater. The chemistry and physics are not pitched at too high a level for the general reader, but are enough to explain the science clearly. A must for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the relationship between science, art and culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bright Earth, 2 April 2011
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This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
A book packed with information about all aspects of colour in art; from how ancient artists dealt with colour to the manufacture of pigments. It is an illuminating book, not at all pompously written but intelligently so. It was a fascinating aspect of the History of art in a paperback! Would recomend it to anyone seriously interested in painting, or even weekend sploshers!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 17 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
The subject is fascinating, the author has carried out loads of research however, he has struggled to organise the fruits of his research so that the book lacks coherency. You think he's starting a line of reasoning only to find it goes nowhere and he's off in a different direction. The final chapters seem to belong to a different book, as it turns into a catalogue of painters.

This book should have had a good editor. Some sentences don't make sense. In an effort to make science easy, it has been made vague and inaccurate. If you don't understand something in this book it's probably because the paragraph is badly phrased and choice of vocabulary is imprecise. This work is full of name-dropping asides that go nowhere, very frustrating to a curious reader.

There are some interesting gems in the book and it has at least been a pointer to me to other books on the subject.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend reading the books of John Gage who is credited as one of Phillip Ball's sources and contacts, in particular "Colour in Art", "Colour and Culture", "Colour and Meaning". Also the invaluable little paperback "Colour: Making and Using Dyes and Pigments" by Francois Delamere and Bernard Guineau.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific overview of how colours were developed and used over history - very informative, 6 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
This is not an easy read, but it is full of information concerning the materials which artists throughout history have had at their disposal, and how they were produced. Artist's needs did not drive the processes, and the new pigments were usually the result of progress in industrial processes such as dyeing, mining etc. The book mirrors the new inventions against the art of their day. Fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour (Paperback)
A truly excellent book, packed with informaiton
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Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour
Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour by Philip Ball (Paperback - 1 May 2008)
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