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.
Imagery from this post is featured in
our special book of images created to celebrate 10 years of The Public Domain Review.
500+ images – 368 pages
Large format – Hardcover with inset image