Monday, February 22, 2016

Color Charts Through History

For centuries artists have explored ways to map the universe of color. Each kind of chart reflects a different conception of color. Here are a few examples, from a selection by The Public Domain Review

"A chart from 1746 by Jacques-Fabien Gautier illustrating his theory that the primary colours
are black and white, with red, yellow, and blue being secondary. Colours were thought
to be drawn out of the shadows by the presence of light – Source."

"Philipp Otto Runge’s Farbenkugel (1810). The top two images show the surface
of the sphere, while the bottom two show horizontal and vertical cross sections –Source." 
"Johann Heinrich Lambert’s three-dimensional adaptation of
Tobias Mayer’s triangle, featured in his Beschreibung einer mit
dem Calauschen Wachse ausgemalten Farbenpyramide
(1772) – Source."

"Page from Priced catalogue of artists’ materials : supplies for
oil painting, water color painting, china painting … and
drawing materials for architects and engineers, manual
training schools and colleges (1914) – Source."
Captions quoted from: The Public Domain Review. See more at their post Color Wheel Charts and Tables Through History
More about color systems in my book: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter


Jared Cullum said...

I have been reading a book in Winslow Homer's techniques and life. It refers constantly to the book 'Chevreul on Color' which he referred to as his bible and carried a copy gifted to him by his brother everywhere he went. I thought about buying a copy (eBay) to read but I figured there wouldn't be much more information than modern books on color I've read, like yours.

James Gurney said...

Jared, I found a reprint of that book in the library, but didn't find it as useful as more recent treatises on color, mainly because there has been so much new information brought to the field in the last 30 years or so. The most authoritative material on color is actually online on the websites David Briggs' HueValueChroma and Bruce MacEvoy's Whereas I had to draw the line on laying out the geeky science, both those guys go way deep into the topic.

Susan Krzywicki said...

1746! Wonderful. It is interesting how artists always lead science. The creative urge imagines what the universe is about long before scientists can come up with the mechanics of a thing.

David Briggs said...

The Colour Society of Australia is having an exhibition of historical works on colour in Sydney this month for International Colour Day.