Learn more about the History of Colour around the World and how it evolved over the years.

Looking at Colour through the Eyes of...

History of the Color Wheel

Colors are not just hues; they are carriers of emotion, culture, and symbolism. They can captivate, inspire, and evoke a myriad of feelings within us. Behind this mesmerizing world of colors lies a fascinating history, with the color wheel serving as a cornerstone in understanding the relationships between colors.

The Birth of the Color Wheel

It was not until the 18th century that the color wheel, as we know it today, began to take shape. Swiss artist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and scientist Moses Harris independently developed early versions of the color circle, organizing hues in a systematic way. However, it was the work of physicist James Clerk Maxwell and artist Albert Munsell in the 19th and 20th centuries that solidified the color wheel as a fundamental tool in art and science.

The history of the color wheel is a testament to humanity’s enduring fascination with color and its profound significance in our lives. From ancient mysticism to modern science, the journey of the color wheel reflects our quest to understand and harness the power of color. As we continue to explore its depths, we uncover new insights and possibilities, enriching our experience of the vibrant spectrum that surrounds us.

Colour Pigments, Chemistry & Mixing through the Ages...

The Chemistry of Colour

The chemistry of color is a captivating intersection of science and art, delving into the intricate molecular structures and interactions that give rise to the vibrant spectrum of hues we perceive.

At its core, color arises from the interaction of light with matter, where molecules selectively absorb and reflect certain wavelengths of light. This process, known as absorption spectroscopy, underpins the coloration of everything from natural pigments in plants and animals to synthetic dyes and pigments developed in laboratories.

The chemical composition and arrangement of atoms within a molecule dictate its absorption and reflection properties, determining the color it imparts. For example, the conjugated systems of double bonds in molecules like chlorophyll produce the green hues observed in plants, while complex organic dyes synthesized from aromatic compounds yield an array of vivid colors.

Understanding the chemistry of color not only unlocks the secrets of the natural world but also drives innovation in fields such as materials science, textiles, and digital displays, shaping the colorful tapestry of our modern lives.

The History of Paint

The history of paint stretches back thousands of years, weaving a narrative of human ingenuity and artistic expression.

Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans developed rudimentary forms of paint using natural pigments derived from minerals, plants, and animal sources. These early paints, often mixed with binders like egg or oil, adorned cave walls, pottery, and frescoes, offering glimpses into ancient cultures and their artistic prowess.

Over time, advancements in chemistry and technology led to the development of more sophisticated pigments and binders, such as the invention of oil paint in the Renaissance period, which revolutionized the art world.

The Industrial Revolution brought mass production of paints, making them more accessible to artists and homeowners alike. 

Today, paint continues to evolve with the introduction of eco-friendly formulas, innovative color technologies, and digital tools, yet its fundamental role as a medium for creativity and self-expression remains unchanged.

Dangerous Colours

Throughout history, certain colors have wielded a deadly allure, their toxicity hidden beneath their captivating hues.

One such infamous pigment is Paris Green, a vibrant green hue derived from copper arsenate. Used prolifically in the 19th century for wallpapers, fabrics, and even confectionery, Paris Green’s toxic properties led to countless cases of poisoning and death. Another deadly color is Scheele’s Green, containing copper arsenite, which found its way into paints, textiles, and even sweets during the 18th and 19th centuries. Its vibrant green hue masked its deadly nature, causing numerous health issues and fatalities among those exposed to it. 

Lead white, with its brilliant white pigment, was favored by artists for centuries despite its poisonous lead content, leading to lead poisoning among painters. These examples serve as stark reminders of the perilous consequences hidden behind the allure of history’s deadliest colors.

The History of Colour in Film

The history of color in film is a captivating journey marked by innovation, experimentation, and technological breakthroughs. While early cinema primarily relied on black and white imagery, filmmakers dreamed of bringing color to the silver screen to enhance storytelling and captivate audiences.

The first steps towards colorization came with hand-painted frames, tinting, and toning techniques, adding hues to specific scenes or entire films. However, it was the advent of Technicolor in the 1930s that revolutionized color filmmaking, offering vibrant and lifelike hues that mesmerized audiences.

Classic films like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” showcased the magic of Technicolor, forever changing the cinematic landscape. As technology advanced, new color processes emerged, including Eastmancolor and Kodachrome, further expanding the creative possibilities for filmmakers.

Today, digital color grading has become the norm, allowing directors to manipulate colors with precision and nuance, shaping the mood and atmosphere of their films. The history of color in film is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, transforming the silver screen into a canvas of vivid imagery and immersive storytelling.