Color us curious.

18th century Embroidered Robe

Image by Sacheverelle via Flickr

The history of color would be an amazing topic to research.  It is hard to imagine a world without color.  From the earliest days of mankind, color has been used to fascinate and entertain.

Gutenberg<e> gives us another great book, The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Sarah Lowengard.  The author states, “By the eighteenth century, the production of dyes, pigments and glazes were well established industries. The need for color was well known. The search for new colors, or for improved methods to produce known ones, was constant throughout Europe, throughout the eighteenth century. Color was a subject of systematic experimental and theoretical investigations in the sciences. Color production techniques were subject to an equally intense market-conscious if not market-driven scrutiny.”

This book looks like an interesting source of information on color history.  The author continues, “The quest for new colors and for improvement to understanding more generally could look to the sciences for order and direction. The search for new colors and improvements to existing ones were ways to connect science to public advancement and politeness, ways that carried hints of potential personal gain. Throughout the eighteenth century, people from all social and economic backgrounds thought about color, experimented with color, and offered their own notions of how to explain it, how to use it, and how to improve it.”

This book also has the focus of documenting the transfer of thought from one nation to another.  Technology of the era is discussed often in this text.  Yet it always returns to color.

Sarah Lowengard says of her book’s focus, “By moving color—not art, not pigments, not dyes, or textiles, or pots or glazes, or scientific theories, or special techniques—into the center, we can look at the way all these components functioned together.”

Be sure to click the Media Index at the top of the “books” pages.  You will find a wealth of amazing images concerning the study of color and various pigments.  The pictures help to tell the history of an ongoing interest in the nature of color.



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7 responses to “Color us curious.

  1. “Color!” such a short word yet a huge meaning to it. I think color makes people feel different either in a good way or bad, for instance black to some cultures it might mean death or evil. In our world now the color black is looked at as luxury or fun. I have seen where children are tested with colors and as humans we all have different emotions when we see the same color shown to us. Imagine our world without color, we would all be paralyzed with in our life’s.

  2. Cindy

    The dying processes in the 1700s were more advanced and sophisticated than I would have thought, yet when you think about the delicate hues in portraits of the era, not only are the paint pigments so vivid, but also, obviously, the color in the clothes was vivid.
    I’ve always been fascinated by color. One of my earliest, earliest memories was that I had this color in my mind (kind of yellowish pinkish peach) that I thought I had invented. But my engineering/ science brained father told me that was not possible as all colors already existed within the ultraviolet-infrared spectrum, reflections of light stuff, blah blah blah. You couldn’t invent a color. Nevertheless, I can close my eyes and still instantly see my own sunset-special shade that I invented.

  3. color gives life to everything. it plays a big part to fashion, things and entertainment. the author has a wide scope of explaining the importance of color in our lives. interesting..

  4. Edith Clary

    I was recently in Mesilla, NM and noticed a poster on a bookstores wall, it was on what roots, spices, etc., native americans used to dye textiles. We take for granted what it takes to get the vibrant colors we see today. Yellow is such a difficult color, yet the native americans were able to do it beautifuly, as you can see in the link below:

  5. Shannon Willis

    While looking at the pictures of the criation of color, I saw a picture that had no color then that same picture next to it with color added to it. That made me think of how mind blowing it must have been for the first people to see a picture with color in it. How a drawing could be brought to life with the colors in it. I thought it was interesting.

  6. I’ve always been a fan of color (even do i most of the time wear black), when i studied interior design one of my favorite class was “color & psychology”, i would like to read the book its sounds very interesting.

  7. I think the woman who wrote this book was onto something! I remember when we talked in class about how different price points, has different color forecasting. Ex: The yellow on a $1200 dress isn’t going to be the same yellow on a skirt you’d find at Macy’s for $40. I see it as a class system; People always want the latest thing, but when the rich notice that they’re being followed, they go to the next big thing. It’s been happening since man first wore fur, and it will continue on forever. It’s like a subconscious herding, we see a new look, and follow in packs to attain it.

    P.S. I hope this comment is along the lines of what you’re looking for.

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