The images, dating from 1850-1960, have been compiled in a new book called The Colour of Time: A New History of the World. Notable figures and landmarks are featured within the photo series, that aims to “restore brilliance to a desaturated world”. The book features 200 images and it can take up to one month to colour a single photograph.
The book features the work of celebrated Brazilian artist Marina Amaral, who painstakingly alters historical black and white photographs in life-like colour.
The authors said that: “Although the canvas on which you work is a computer screen, every single part of the picture is coloured by hand.”
Among the figures to feature in the book are Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch Queen Victoria, Russian mystic Rasputin and Liliuokalani, the last Queen of Hawaii.
Also pictured in the collection are some of the most famous venues of the modern age, including the Egyptian Court inside the Crystal Palace and the notorious Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
Colour of Time was published in August and presents over 100 years of history through 200 astonishing full-colour images and accompanying commentary from historian Dan Jones.
The authors of the book say that by showing the images in colour they hope to give people “a new way of looking at the world during a time of monumental change”.
The book charts the rise and fall of empires, the achievements of science, industry and the arts, the tragedies of war and the lives of men and women who made history.
A passage in the book reads: “This book is an attempt to restore brilliance to a desaturated world. It is a history in colour.”
Ms Amaral had to use historical research to tease out ever colour.
An excerpt from the book explains: “A portrait of a soldier, say, will contain uniforms, medals, ribbons, patches, vehicles, skin, eye and hair colours.
“Where possible, each detail must be verified: traced via other visual or written sources.”
Clement Knox, Waterstones History and Politics Buyer, said: “It is no overstatement to say that Marina Amaral has helped a whole generation view the past through a lens with her beautiful and haunting colorization of old black and white photos.”
English novels and screenwriter Michael Marshall Smith wrote on Twitter about the book: “You want this. I spent most of today with it, and the combination of beautifully coloured historic photos and well-judged prose vignettes is exceptional.”
James O’Shaughnessy, American investor, also discussed the book on Twitter: “It’s mesmerising and changes how you think about history.
“One example, John Wilkes Booth in color looks like Jude Law. Really great!”