University Federico II
of Naples, Italy
European Chemistry
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Chemistry and Color

painting from Lascaux caves
Color has fascinated man from time immemorial since prehistory, as demonstrated by paintings found in 20.000 years old caves.
hands decorated with henna dyes
The earliest dyes were probably obtained by prehistoric men from materials derived from plants and mixed with water. They were used in tribal rites (to differentiate social status or membership in different groups) or just to decorate their skins or the places they lived.

The Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio wrote: colour is an effort of matter to become light.
Oil painting (Eduardo Palumbo)

Flower field
Dyes are chemical substances that are able to change the color of a given substrate. To do so, they must embed in the substrate.

Until some more than one century ago, colors were from natural sources only. Later, following industry development, natural dyes were replaced by synthetic dyes and their usage has been progressively restricted to special fields like art and textile crafts, food colors.

Dyes can be divided according to their characteristics and to coloring techniques, into Pigments, Colorants and Lacquers