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Victoria Finlay ¸ 3 summary

Color A Natural History of the Palette

In this vivid and captivating journey through the colors of an artist’s palette Victoria Finlay takes us on an enthralling adventure around the world and through the ages illuminating how the colors we choose to value have determined the history of culture itselfHow did the most precious color blue travel all the way from remote lapis mines in Afghanistan to Michelangelo’s brush What is the connection between brown paint and ancient Egyptian mummies Why did Robin Hood wear Lincoln green In Color Finlay explores the physical materials that color our world such as precious minerals and insect blood as well as the social and political meanings that color has carried through timeRoman emper. Funny story with this book got to page 112 and discovered that pages 113 to 146 were missing Thankfully Random House publisher came to the rescue and sent me a replacement copy Until it came I was in suspense about how ladies used to poison themselves by accident with white cosmetics that were made from leadThis book was interesting not only for the information about colors but also for the author s travels She went to great lengths to get to the source of some colors and along the way educates the reader about old customs and cultures Fascinating book that will fill your head with lots of information that will seem useless unless you appear on Jeopardy some day It made me look at everything around me a little attentively though really noticing the color Is that blue indigo or violet and thinking about where that color source may have been auired

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Thrilling adventure with this intrepid journalist as she travels on a donkey along ancient silk trade routes; with the Phoenicians sailing the Mediterranean in search of a special purple shell that garners wealth sustenance and prestige; with modern Chilean farmers breeding and bleeding insects for their viscous red blood The colors that craft our world have never looked so bright Colour was first published by Hodder Stoughton in 2002 The text of this edition follows that of the first edition with minor emendations Endpaper map by Yoco Typographic design by Andrew Barker Printed on Furioso paper at Firmengruppe Appl Wemding Germany Bound by them in cloth printed with a design by Jörn Kaspu. LOVE me a book where I can pick a chapter and read up on what s been taunting my mind thus I love anthologies and various other collectionsin Color I found a fantastic historical recounting of the whowherewhywhat of much of our commonly accepted color palette And that alone means something because there is a surprisingly low ratio of general citizens who knows REALLY what color is about how it s made how we wrestlednegotiatedbullied our ways into being enjoyerspurveyors of it Lot s of lessons to be learned

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Ors used to wear togas dyed with a purple color that was made from an odorous Lebanese shellfish–which probably meant their scent preceded them In the eighteenth century black dye was called logwood and grew along the Spanish Main Some of the first indigo plantations were started in America amazingly enough by a seventeen year old girl named Eliza And the popular van Gogh painting White Roses at Washington’s National Gallery had to be renamed after a researcher discovered that the flowers were originally done in a pink paint that had faded nearly a century ago Color is full of extraordinary people events and anecdotes–painted all the dazzling by Finlay’s engaging styleEmbark upon a. I m always on my guard when I start reading a commodity history In many cases this is an endless accumulation of facts and anecdotes often unsystematic and what is worse without critical screening I had bad experiences with Mark Kurlansky s books especially the one about Salt Salt A World History But this seems to me of a different kind Obviously this is not a science book and Finlay is the first to admit All in all this is a mixed alternation of scientific information personal travel stories anecdotes and even historical fiction I only have a problem with the latter for example when she imagines how a Jew a violin maker expelled from Spain roams Europe in the late 15th century in search of orange coloured varnish But otherwise this book stands for a very pleasant and informative read with usually also the necessary critical senseFinlay opens up the wonderful world of colours to such an extent that from now on you can no longer look at the colour texture of objects with a blank mind there is always a sometimes very surprising history behind it If you open up a box of paints there are numerous such stories hidden inside it They are stories of sacredness and profanity of nostalgia and innovation of secrecy and myth of luxury and texture of profit and loss of fading and poison of cruelty and greed and of the determination of some people to let nothing stop them in the pursuit of beauty Finlay focusses on traditional and artisanal dyes and fabrics namely those that were extracted from pigments of plants animals minerals or ordinary soil often after a very intensive process that also regularly involved rotting It is a wonderful world of secret recipes carefully shielded monopolies and sometimes intense trade over thousands of kilometres Apparently this whole machinery came to an end around the middle of the 19th century uite suddenly with the discovery of synthetic dyes usually extracted from coal tar They were so successful and so much cheaper that they almost wiped traditional paints off the map in a way that many of the recipes just disappeared They are now being rediscovered little by little and that also Finlay zooms in onIn short this is a very informative book which actually focuses on dye than on colour although the latter determines the content of the book divided in about 10 defining colours I have learned a lot from it The only major flaw I see is the lack of illustrations at least in the edition I had There is a small colour section but that is than insufficient To say it with a pun this book really screams for colour


About the Author: Victoria Finlay

Victoria Finlay is a writer and journalist known for her books on colour and jewels Her most famous book is Colour Travels Through The Paint Boxfrom WikipediaI studied Social Anthropology at St Andrews University Scotland and William & Mary College Virginia after spending time in Himalayan India teaching in a Tibetan refugee camp and realising how amazing it was to learn about different



10 thoughts on “Color A Natural History of the Palette

  1. says:

    The disclaimers I imagine perhaps possibly it could be that appear in this NON FICTION book far times than they should While I liked the content of about three uarters of the book it infuriated me at times when the author would suddenly start presenting the material through the eyes of a character imagining their experiences travels and accomplishments This first rears its head around page 81 when the tone of her book changes to speculate a

  2. says:

    This is one of those books where you walk into a room finger on page and yell ‘Did you know that Cherry Coke is full of dead insects?’ at someone chopping onions before ambling away again It is a very charming and anecdotal book in which Victoria Finlay racks up the air miles trying to research the history of paints and dyes and colourings from across the spectrumIt is as she points out uite strange to think that electromag

  3. says:

    Funny story with this book got to page 112 and discovered that pages 113 to 146 were missing Thankfully Random House publisher came to the rescue and sent me a replacement copy Until it came I was in suspense about how ladies used to poison themselves by accident with white cosmetics that were made from leadThis book was interesting

  4. says:

    I’m always on my guard when I start reading a commodity history In many cases this is an endless accumulation of facts and anecdotes often unsystematic and what is worse without critical screening I had bad experiences with Mark Kurlansky's books especially the one about Salt Salt A World History But this seems to me

  5. says:

    I remember when I was a child getting a box of paints in small tubes I was fascinated by the names of the colours words I had never heard of before vermillion magenta auamarine cochineal carmine They might have been only shades of orange purple blue and red but those exotic names gave those paints just a little magic Didn't do much for my art work but never mind Victoria Finlay would appear to have had a similar early interest in colour wh

  6. says:

    Having an affinity for all things color I was attracted to the cover of Color A Natural History of the Palette while visiting the Met one afternoon about a year ago I bought it and have been reading it for the p

  7. says:

    Oh this book had so much promise And yet it fell flat I was expecting to read of a history book but it turned out to be a traveloguememoir and a tad too self involved for my tastes Moreover the author does a lot of imagining for a work of non fiction Damn

  8. says:

    LOVE me a book where I can pick a chapter and read up on what's been taunting my mind thus I love anthologies and various other collectionsin Color I found a fantastic historical recounting of the whowherewhywhat of much of our commonly accepted color palette And that alone means something because there is a surprisingly low ratio of 'general citizens' who knows REALLY what color is about how it's made how we wrestlednegotiatedb

  9. says:

    I’d call this a travelogue on the origin of pigments and dyes of each rainbow color and I believe the only book to really tackle the history of color This book had been on my radar a while but I had decided not to read it

  10. says:

    Overall this was really interesting though it did take a month to read It saved the best colors for last indigo from the indigo plant and violet from sea snail tears There was an interesting balance maybe unsuccessful bet

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