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Chromatopia: A History of Colour

Various chemical substances

Join head paint-maker David Coles as he reveals the origin stories behind history’s most vivid colour pigments

Did you know that the Egyptians created the first synthetic colour, or that the noblest purple comes from a predatory sea snail? Throughout history, artist pigments have been made from deadly metals, poisonous minerals, urine, cow dung, and even crushed insects.

Since the beginnings of human existence, colour has played an integral role in the way we describe the world around us. Spanning thousand of years, David Coles tells the history of pigments and their incredible journeys across the globe.

Chromatopia, An Illustrated History of Colour is published by Thames & Hudson


David Coles is the founder and head paint-maker of Langridge Artist Colours, one of the world’s most respected makers of artists’ oil paints. His knowledge on colour, from both an artistic, scientific and historical perspective has seen him speak at institutions around the world.

Tate Modern

Terrace Shop

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

18 April 2019 at 20.00–21.00