A lovely, deep book, full of cultural history of the most unexpected sort. Pleasantly concise, with delicious illustration, it is strongest on Middle Ages and Renaissance, but carries the story to the present in compelling fashion. The Gallic self-confidence may irk some, but the signal to noise ratio is much higher than the norm for such scholars. Fun for all is to be had.
wonderful illustrations, popular history
As a scholar and teacher (art history, visual studies), I found this book fascinating, and I'm eager to add it to my own library. Pastoureau's writing can be discomfiting. At first, he struck me as snobbish and crotchety, but I came to the conclusion he's just a French academic. It's worth bearing in mind that the literature has expanded mightily in the last decade. Although Pastoureau dismisses popular studies, I think he might have approved Victoria Finlay's Color: A natural history of the palette and A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield (both of which I enjoyed). What I really liked about his study is its criticality and the probing, productive questions he raises.
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