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
The majority of the digital copies featured are in the public domain or under an open license all over the world, however, some works may not be so in all jurisdictions. On each Collections post we’ve done our best to indicate which rights we think apply, so please do check and look into more detail where necessary, before reusing. All articles published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. Strong Freedom in the Zone.