Free US shipping over $10
Proud to be B-Corp

Bright Earth Philip Ball

Bright Earth By Philip Ball

Bright Earth by Philip Ball

Condition - Very Good
Only 3 left


One of the least studied aspects of the history of art is the artist's tools, especially the colours themselves and how artists have obtained them. Ranging from the ancient Greeks to the present day, it reveals how art is more of a science and science more of an art than might be supposed.

Bright Earth Summary

Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour by Philip Ball

No greater tale has remained untold than that of colour. We live in an age where almost every conceivable hue can be chemically manufactured, and is available off the shelf. Yet for thousands of years just a handful of pigments - many lacking in any brilliance, some lethally toxic - were all the artist's palette contained, and the quest to create new colours was at the centre of scientific and artistic endeavour. Bright Earth tells the extraordinary story of this quest. It provides a lucid, gripping explanation of exactly how - through a mixture of primitive chemistry and luck -the ancient alchemists of colour were able to expand the artist's rainbow. Their sources were varied, and sometimes unlikely. Two of history's most prized colours - Tyrian purple and crimson - were derived, respectively, from a shellfish and a beetle. The search for new colour was fraught with mishaps and hazards, where the value of a particular shade of yellow had to be weighed against the potential for traces on your fingertips to kill you at your dinner table, and where an orange as glorious as distilled sunlight might fade to muddy brown by the next year. Yet the demand for bright and innovative colour drove the search ever forward. From the austere palette of the Ancient Greeks to the Romans' expensive passion for purple; through the glorious profusion of Renaissance art to the restrained pigments of Rembrandt and Velazquez; and from the Romantic painters' early forays into direct collaboration with chemists to the erratic and sometimes spectacular marriage of art and science in the 20th century, Bright Earth is the fascinating, beautifully illustrated story of the magic behind the canvas.

About Philip Ball

Philip Ball is a regular contributor to Nature, New Scientist, and various national and international newspapers. His previous books include DESIGNING THE MOLECULAR WORLD (which won the Association of American Publishers' Award), THE SELF-MADE TAPESTRY and H2O: A BIOGRAPHY OF WATER.

Table of Contents

The eye of the beholder - the scientists in the studio; plucking the rainbow - the physics and chemistry of colour; the forge of vulcan - colour technology in antiquity; secret recipes -alchemy's artistic legacy; masters of light and shadow - the glory of the Renaissance; old gold - the revivial of an austere palette; the prismatic metals - synthetic pigments and the dawn of colour chemistry; the reign of light - impressionism's bright impact; a passion for purple - dyes and the industrialization of colour; shades of midnight - the problem of blue; time as painter - the ever-changing canvas; capturing colour - how art appears in reproduction; mind over matter - colour as form in modernism; art for art's sake - new materials, new horizons.

Additional information

Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour by Philip Ball
Used - Very Good
Penguin Books Ltd
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us

Customer Reviews - Bright Earth