Featured below is a chronology of various attempts through the last four centuries to visually organise and make sense of colour. A wide variety of forms and methods are represented: from simple wheels to multi-layered pyramids, from scientific systems to those based on the hues of human emotion. Many of the images are directly, or indirectly, sourced from Sarah Lowengard’s excellent The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe – published electronically on Gutenberg-e in 2006 – a highly recommended read if you’re keen to find out more about the fascinating history of colour, and also background on many of the images below. Also check out Philip Ball’s Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color (2003) for a great look at how art, chemistry, and technology have interacted through the ages.
Various sources, see link with individual image for details.
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions
In this section of the site we bring you curated collections of images, books, audio and film, shining a light on curiosities and wonders from a wide range of online archives. With a leaning toward the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of materials which truly celebrates the breadth and variety of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it. Some of our most popular posts include visions of the future from late 19th century France, a dictionary of Victorian slang and a film showing the very talented “hand-farting” farmer of Michigan. With each post including links back to the original source we encourage you to explore these wonderful online sources for yourself. Check out our Sources page to see where we find the content.