Travels Through the Paintbox

Book - 2002
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Blackwell North Amer
In the 1770s a young French botanist tricked his way into Mexico. His mission? To steal the secret of Spanish Red from men who would have burned him alive.
In the 1990s the resistance against the Taliban warriors in Afghanistan was financed by the sale of blue stones: stones that had been the source of the ultramarine paint used by Italian artists during the Renaissance.
In 2000 Victoria Finlay set out to uncover these and many other stories from inside the paintbox. On her travels she visited remote Central American villages where women still wear skirts dyed with the purple tears of sea snails; learned how George Washington obsessed about his green dining room while he should have been busy with matters of state, and investigated the mystery of Indian Yellow paint - said to have been made from the urine of Indian cows forced-fed with mango leaves.
In this biography of the colours of the rainbow, Finlay describes a history that is as enthralling as it is pertinent. From mascara to violin varnish, from nomadic carpets to stained glass to pillar boxes to crayons, the story of colour is the story of the efforts of artists and artisans to reproduce the rainbow - and the impact their work has had on the world.

Publisher: London : Sceptre, c2002
ISBN: 9780340733288
Branch Call Number: 701.85 Fin
Characteristics: xiv, 494 p. : ill. (some col.), maps


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Apr 11, 2013

One of those wonderful books that enrich your sense of the world.

Nov 22, 2011

The author was interviewed for a 3-part CBC Radio "Ideas" program on the theme of "colour". The series was broadcasted over three weeks starting on November 21,2011. Information is available at the CBC Ideas web site.

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