In Color: a Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay gives a chapter on each color of the rainbow and talks about how people, from ancient times to the 20th century, made dyes and paints using the materials around them. Indigo comes from the indigo bush, for example, orange from a root called madder, blue from stones mined in Afghanistan, and red from the blood of an insect, the cochineal. The colors come from every corner of the world – India, Australia, Mexico, China, England – and Finlay takes us to each place as she searches for the stories of the people who make and use the colors in their painting and dyeing. It was all very fascinating and well-written. However, I think the book could be a great basis for a documentary or mini-series. I’d like to be able to see the paintings Finlay references, and watch people making the colors. This is the book’s one deficiency; the illustrations are all in the middle (and there aren’t many) and I had to keep flipping forward or back to see them as they were referenced in the text. This criticism aside, Color: A Natural History of the Paletteis a fascinating and thorough look at the way human beings have brightened their surroundings.
The library call number for this item is ND1488 .F56 2003.
–Adrienne Meier, Librarian for the Social Sciences/University Archivist