July 20, 2010


After a hiatus of a few years in which some things happened, amongst them having a child and being away on maternity leave, and changing my status at the University, I’m back.

On 2009-10 I left my Assistant Secretary post and devoted more time to teaching at the History of Art Department. This year I taught the following modules:

  • Spanish Painting of the Golden Age
  • Art in the Age of Revolutions
  • Portraiture
  • Painting Techniques (of Sacred Art)

and led the seminars for the Introduction to Art History – The Natural World and the Arts of Modernity survey module.

October 02, 2006

Back to school

Start of term today. I can’t believe the summer is over already; in fact, it feels like it was over a couple of months ago. As usual, I didn’t have time to do all I wanted to do, but given the family situation in Spain that’s understandable.

The student intake this year was slightly lower than last year; still, it felt like we had been invaded by hordes of young girls. It was good to see the familiar faces of second years coming in to meet their “mentees”, moving confidently about the place. It might be the season, but I think I’m getting a bit maudlin about how students seem to be getting younger every year.

And a beautiful quote, because I love it and because Dan is in the Alps right now:

‘I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me, and to me
High mountains are a feeling’

(Lord Byron)

July 30, 2006

Mixed metaphors

Writing about web page http://www.esmerel.com/circle/wordlore/

"The job of any good educator is to find that spark of enlightenment and to water it well."
From linktext

June 27, 2006

New course code

The Spanish Golden Age has been allocated a code – HA249.

I shall be posting a vacation reading list shortly, here and on the departmental website.

June 26, 2006

Random thoughts, June 2006

Well, today was the first day of the summer vacation, and as usual I had forgotten about the useless Stagecoach buses running once every half hour or so (and then half of those only go to Kenilworth. Wth for??? Kenilworth? Hello?), so I had to wait forever at the Tesco bus stop. As usual, too, I had recurrent fantasies about writing to the Stagecoach customer services and asking them why they run so few buses to University during vacations. It's not like people don't work there any more. And there are postgraduate students too. Bah. As with evening timetables, it's something that bothers me but I know I'll never do anything about it.

Unlike with that poster in The Link advertising "The Latest Summers Style's". Ick. Not one but two spelling mistakes, on a printed poster that – surely – more than 3 people must have seen, authorised and proofread. Sometimes I despair, I really do. But in this case it irked me enough to do something, and I emailed Customer Services and spoke to the manager in the shop (who was frankly bemused and had no clue what I was talking about) about it. After a few days, I got an email back thanking me for noting it, and promising they'd look into it. The poster is still up – I'll post a pic some time. It annoys me so much; it gives such an unprofessional image. Not that I care about The Link, but it's representative of how good spelling has stopped being something you could take for granted.

And on to something quite different: today I bumped into one of my students in Leamington, someone who had written a great essay for one of my courses, and asked them if I could use their essay as an example, for when other students ask what they need to write to get a first. AFAIK, this essay got a 73, and I remember being pleasantly surprised when I read it. It's one of the rewarding things about teaching; it makes everything worthwhile (the less–than–original essays, the frustratingly illegible exams, the long hours preparing classes, the dreaded silent seminars). The student looked pretty chuffed too. Good; they should. :D

November 29, 2005

Making & Meaning module 2: Colour. Bibliography


  • Albers, Josef. Interaction of colour. Yale University Press, 1975. ND1488.A5
  • Berlin B. and P. Kay. Basic Color Terms. 1991. QC494.3.B3
  • Birren, Faber. Principles of Color. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co, 1969. ND1488.B4
  • Burnham, R.W., R.M. Haines and C.J. Bartleson. Color: a guide to basic facts and concepts. QC495.B8
  • Gage, John. Colour and Culture. Thames & Hudson, 1993. ND1488.G2
  • Gage, John. Colour and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism. Thames & Hudson, 1999. ND1488.G2
  • Gombrich, Ernst. ‘Expression and communication’, in Meditations on a Hobby Horse. Phaidon, 1988. N70.G6
  • Gombrich, Ernst. ‘From light to paint’, in Art and Illusion: a study in the psychology of pictorial representation. Phaidon, 1960. N70.G6
  • Kemp, Martin. The Science of Art: optical themes in western art from Brunelleschi to Seurat. Yale University Press, 1990. N7430.5.K3
  • Lamb, Trevor, and Janine Bourriau (eds.). Colour: Art & Science. Cambridge, 1995.ND1488.C6
  • Munsell, Albert H. A Grammar of Color. Ed. and intro by Faber Birren. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1969. ND1488.M8
  • Riley, Charles. Color codes. University Press of New England, 1995. ND1488.R4
  • Varley, Helen. Colour. Mitchell Beazley, 1980. QC495.C6 (oversize)
  • Zelanski, Paul and Mary Pat Fisher. Colour. Prentice Hall, 1999 (3rd ed.)


  • Barasch, Moshe. Light and colour in the Italian Renaissance Theory of Art. New York University Press, 1978. ND615.B2
  • Bryson, Norman. Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Regime. Cambridge University Press, 1981. ND546.B7
  • Callen, Anthea. ‘Coloured Views: Gender and morality in Degas’ Bather pastels’, in The Body, ed. A. Benjamin. Special issue of Journal of Philosophy and Literature, London 1993. B105.B6
  • Dyer, Richard. White. Routledge, 1997. HC9500.D9
  • Eastlake, Charles. Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters. 2 vols. Dover, 1960. ND1471.E2
  • Lichtenstein, Jacqueline. The Eloquence of Color. University of California Press, 1993. ND546.L4
  • Puttfarken, Thomas. Roger de Piles’ Theory of Art. Yale University Press, 1985. N7483.P4
  • Rosand, David. Painting in Sixteenth-century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. Cambridge University Press, 1997. ND621.V3
  • Sohm, Philip L. Pittoresco : Marco Boschini, his critics, and their critiques of painterly brushwork in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Italy. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Summers, D. ‘The Stylistics of Color’, in Color and technique in Renaissance painting : Italy and the North, ed. Marcia B. Hall. J.J. Augustin, 1987. ND 1488.C6

Monographies on artists

Check the Library catalogue to find general works for individual artists, such as Titian, Veronese, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Poussin, Rubens, Cézanne, Seurat, Moreau…

Some online resources

A very informative, general site, if a little higgledy-piggledy. Check Explore > Color & the Brain > Culture (Color and Culture Matters)

A site about colour in webpage design, with swatches of colour and their meanings in different cultures.

A colour-chart site, featuring a downloadable 4-panel scrolling side-by-side combination viewer utility.

For more general online resources for History of Art (including information on how to reference online sources), check the Library pages: Warwick University Library Online Resources

Making & Meaning module 2: Colour

This module intends to introduce first year history of art students to the concept of colour, in its several dimensions: to the scientific definition of colour as a physical fact; to its cultural and symbolic values; and to the different artistic approaches and solutions to the use of colour.

The module aims to identify general principles in the use of colour by artists and its perception by scholars and the public, through an overview of the evolution of said principles.

Introductory bibliography:

• Lamb, T. and Bourriau, (eds.), Colour: Art & Science. Cambridge, 1995.
A good general collection of essays that cover most topics in the course.
• Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher, Color. Prentice Hall, 1999 (3rd edition).
A highly recommended general introduction to colour, very thorough and yet easily readable. Unfortunately this book is not in the Library and is currently out of print, but it can be found for very reasonable prices on both Abebooks (www.abebooks.co.uk) and Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk). Note: the UK and US 3rd editions differ only in the spelling of the word Colour in the title.
A full bibliography is posted on the noticeboard.


Thursdays, 10am -11am in H060

Week 7, Thursday 10 November: What is colour?
All students read: Definition of “colour” in The Dictionary of Art, ed. Jane Turner, reference section in the Library (N31.D4).

Week 8, Thursday 17 November: The interaction of colour.
All students read: Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher, ‘Compositional Effects of Color’ and ‘Color combinations and Interactions’, in Color, pp. 44–54 and 105–29.

Week 9, Thursday 24 November: Historic colour.
All students read: David Bomford, ‘The History of colour in Art’, in Colour: Art and Science, ed. Lamb and Bourriau, pp. 7–30 (ND1488.C6).

Week 10, Thursday 1 December: A case study: the restoration of the Sistine Chapel.
All students read: Marcia B. Hall, ‘Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel vault’, in Color and Meaning: Practice and Theory in Renaissance Painting, pp. 123–9 (ND1488.H2).

Term essays

Essays should be no longer than 1,500 words. Those of you writing essays for this module should submit them no later than Thursday 1 December.

Essay question: Why has traditional art history identified Titian as a colourist and Michelangelo as a draughtsman and sculptor?


Thursdays, 11.15–12.30 and 12.45–2pm in seminar room H244

Topic 1: The moral and cultural values of colour.

One of the best-studied and most influential dynamics throughout art history has been the dialectic between design, or drawing, and colour. It underwent several incarnations between the Renaissance and the 19th century, and came to prominence in France in the 17th century with the Poussinistes and Rubensistes dispute. We will see how colour was imbued with certain meanings and characteristics during these debates, and why. Equally, the pervasiveness and at the same time elusiveness of colour makes it an intriguing subject of study from a psychological point of view; we will see different theories of colour which hinge on the alleged psychological and physiological properties of different colours and colour combinations.

Photocopies of relevant reading will be available in the box in the office, if the book(s) aren’t available in the Library.

Topic 1.1: The Florentine / Venetian Renaissance polarity: disegno vs. colorito.
Students doing this presentation read:
– Moshe Barasch, Light and colour in the Italian Renaissance Theory of Art. Introduction.
– David Rosand, “Venetian aesthetic and the Disegno-Colorito controversy”, in Painting in Sixteenth-century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, pp.10–25.
– Bridget Riley, “Colour for the painter”, in Lamb, Trevor, and Janine Bourriau (eds.). Colour: Art & Science, chp. 2.
– An essay on Titian’s Venus of Urbino: link

For the presentation, bring two slides, one of a painting by Botticelli and one by Titian. Compare them and find examples of the points raised by the texts read.

Topic 1.2: The French Académie: Rubensistes vs. Poussinistes.
Students doing this presentation read:
– Linda Walsh, “Charles Le Brun, ‘art dictator of France’”, in Perry & Cunningham, Academies, Museums and Canons of Art, pp. 86–123.
– Jacqueline Lichtenstein, “The clash between color and drawing; or, the tactile destiny of the idea”, in The Eloquence of Color: Rhetoric and Painting in the French Classical Age, pp. 138–68.
– Bridget Riley, “Colour for the painter”, in Lamb, Trevor, and Janine Bourriau (eds.). Colour: Art & Science, chp. 2.
For the presentation, bring two slides, one of a painting by Rubens and one by Poussin. Compare them and find examples of the points raised by the texts read.

Topic 1.3: Colour in 18-19th century British art theory: from Reynolds to Ruskin.
Students doing this presentation read:
– J.B. Bullen, “A clash of discourses: Venetian painting in England 1750–1850”, in Word & Image, vol. 8, no. 2, April-June 1992.
– Sir Joshua Reynolds, Fourth Discourse.
For the presentation, bring a slide of a work by Reynolds and discuss why his theory and practice were at such odds.

Topic 1.4: Ingres and Delacroix.
Students doing this presentation read:
– Bridget Riley, “Colour for the painter”, in Lamb, Trevor, and Janine Bourriau (eds.). Colour: Art & Science, chp. 2.
– Hugh Honour, Romanticism, pp. 46–55, 125–8.
– Robert Rosenblum, Ingres. Thames & Hudson, 1967. Check the index for references to the relationship between Ingres and Delacroix.
For the presentation, bring a slide of The Death of Sardanapalus _or _The Women of Algiers _by Delacroix, and _Jupiter and Thetis _or _La Grande Odalisque by Ingres, and compare them with reference to the painting/drawing dichotomy.

Topic 1.5: The psychology of colour.
Students doing this presentation read:
– Ernst Gombrich, “Expression and communication”, in Meditations on a Hobby Horse.
– Color Psychology & Personality test and website design: link . Includes the Lüscher test, Chromotherapy and colour healing among other things.
– The mystical properties of colours: www.crystalinks.com/colors.html
– An article about the colour blue in advertising, with many comments posted afterwards: link
– This design website lists some emotional and cultural values of colour, and what they can be applied to in design and advertising: link
– An article about colour in design and marketing: link
– “Color by numbers”: research data concerning colour and demographic trends, in American Demographics, Feb 1, 2002, link
– Zelanski and Fisher, “Psychological Effects of Color”, in Color, chp. 4.
For the presentation, take the Lüscher test and see if it applies to you; if time and technology allow it, we will repeat the experiment during the seminar. Find examples where colour has been used to achieve a certain psychological or physiological effect, for instance packaging design, advertising, home decoration, gardening etc. You can bring them to the seminar as paper clippings, transparencies, PowerPoint presentations, etc.

Topic 2: Colour scales and schemes.

During this seminar we will review the concepts of colour scales (hue or spectral colour, saturation, and brightness or value). Students will demonstrate their understanding of the concepts learned by creating a colour scale, with either hue, saturation or brightness values, and will compare it to at least one work of art of their choice. Therefore, each group of students (three groups in total) will create an A3-sized colour scale out of magazine clippings, colour swatches from paint manufacturers, etc., and present it, with the aid of slides of a work of art or several that follow that same scale.

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