History of Art


HART0003 – Introduction to Art and Science Reading List

This introductory module covers basic organic and inorganic chemistry in a lab-based environment for first-year History of Art students. During the course, you will learn the scientific foundations needed to understand the relationship between the materials artworks are made of, their physical properties, and what can emerge from how they interact. The module will cover topics such as the periodic table, bonding, solubility, and pH. Problem-led lab work will allow you to consolidate your learning and apply your analytical skills to the study of the materials of art. 

Weekly Topics: 

Week 1: Introduction to the course. Heritage, science and the atom. 

Week 2: Periodic Table. 

Week 3: Atomic structure and Bonding. 

Week 4: Molecule, reactions and pH. 

Week 5: Electromagnetic spectrum and colour theory. 

Week 6: Why are some varnishes hard to remove? (in MAT Lab) 

Week 7: How do you synthetise a red dye? (in MAT Lab) 

Week 8: What is fluorescence? (in MAT Lab) 

Week 9: How do you use XRF to identify pigments? (in MAT Lab) 

Week 10: Exam. 

Summer reading: 

Roy S. Berns, Color Science and the Visual Arts: A Guide for Conservators, Curators, and the Curious, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2016. 

Philip Ball, Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Colour, University of Chicago Press, 2004.