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About the book
  • Published: 1 July 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099507130
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

Bright Earth

The Invention of Colour

Formats & editions

A timely reissue of a brilliant exploration of the science of art and of colour

Colour in art - as in life - is both inspiring and uplifting, but where does it come from? How have artists found new hues, and how have these influenced their work? Beginning with the ancients - when just a handful of pigments made up the artist's palette - and charting the discoveries and developments that have led to the many splendoured rainbow of modern paints, Bright Earth brings the story of colour spectacularly alive. Packed with anecdotes about lucky accidents and hapless misfortunes in the quests for new colours, it provides an entertaining and fascinating new perspective on the science of art.

  • Pub date: 1 July 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099507130
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

About the Author

Philip Ball

Philip Ball writes regularly in the scientific and popular media and worked for many years as an editor for physical sciences at Nature. His books cover a wide range of scientific and cultural phenomena, and include Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another (winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books), The Music Instinct, Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, Serving The Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Science Under Hitler and Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics.

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Praise for Bright Earth

“Brings the mysterious subject of colour wonderfully alive. Quite literally an eye-opener”


“A succinct and elegantly structured new survey of Western painting. Ball pitches his learning just right between academic history and a highly readable series of anecdotes and biographical sketches”

Daily Mail

“Full of fascinating vignettes. Philip Ball writes engagingly on complicated topics”

Sunday Telegraph

“Scattered with attractive particles, sparkles with redolent names... A solid, well-researched compendium of information”


“A fascinatingly different account of the history of art”

Scotland on Sunday

“A mine of information...a fascinating book about art and science that is packed with anecdotes”

Contemporary Physics

“Brilliant...in every sense. Ball's book is the volume that has been missing from my library”


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