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François Delamare & Bernard Guineau – Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments

June 22, 2008

80. Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments by François Delamare & Bernard Guineau (2000)

Length: 160 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction

Started: 20 June 2008
Finished: 21 June 2008

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.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. angela pitta permalink
    January 12, 2010 12:28 pm

    quisiera saber si hay version en español, gracias

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