The History of Colour

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Neil Parkinson

This comprehensive, beautiful book delves deep into the complex but fascinating story of our relationship with colour throughout human history.

Colour is fundamental to our experience and understanding of the world. It crosses continents and cultures, disciplines and decades. It is used to convey information and knowledge, to evoke mood, and to inspire emotion.

This book explores the history of our understanding of colour, from the ancient world to the present, from Aristotle to Albers. Interspersed in the historical story are numerous thematic essays that look at how colour has been used across a wide range of disciplines and fields: in food, music, language and many others.  

The illustrations are drawn from the Royal College of Art’s renowned Colour Reference Library which spans six centuries of works and nearly 2,000 titles, from a Gothic manuscript on the composition of the rainbow to hand-painted Enlightenment works on colour theory and vibrant 20th-century colour charts, including many fascinating examples not  seen in other books.

Delving far and wide in this fascinating and varied subject, this book will help readers find new layers of meaning and complexity in their everyday experiences and teach them to look closer at our colourful lives.

PRICE: $28.00 / Can$38.00 / £22.00

MEDIUM:

FORMAT: Hardback

ISBN: 9780711266797

SIZE: 6.732 in x 9.291in / 171mm x 236 mm

PUBLISHED: April 18, 2023

Neil Parkinson is Archives and Collections Manager at the Royal College of Art, London where his responsibilities include development of the renowned Colour Reference Library. In the last decade, he has presented widely on the subject of colour to audiences from schoolchildren to chemists. He has chaired symposiums and conferences on colour, and he wrote a history of the collection for the Journal of Design History (OUP).

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