A Mammoth Book Catalogs a Vibrant Spectrum of Color Charts Spanning 600 Years
January 29, 2024
From chemists’ plant-derived dyes to consumer paint swatches displayed at the hardware store, the history of color charts reflects a varied relationship between pigments, science, culture, and commerce. Anne Varichon in her forthcoming book explores the entwined evolution of this categorization through nearly 200 vibrant samples from the 15th century to modern day.
Translated by Kate Deimling, Color Charts: A History is a hefty survey of hundreds of grids and illustrations cataloging a remarkable spectrum of hues, materials, and uses. Inside its pages are swatches of 19th-century silk ribbons, thin fragments of wool roving, and a 1960s diagram featuring a linoleum collection that appears like a celestial map. While many of the charts included haven’t been published previously, the book also references classics like Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, a wildly popular guide of hues for naturalists and artists.
Published by Princeton University Press, Color Charts outlines the way color has always informed consumer choice, from hand-dyed fabrics to the vast options of mass-produced goods we know today. Dive further into the history by pre-ordering your copy from Bookshop.
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