Hand Painted, 1692 Colour Guide

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page BookWords by Billie Jenkins

Colour is a powerful thing. Pantone, the colour coding system, has erupted from a niche tool used by designers into a household brand, and now features on the mug and notebook of any self-respecting yummy mummy’s coffee table. Their moto, ‘Colour is Life. Live it.’, captures the daily influence colour has on us, be it the warm yellow that peeks though the curtain in the morning or the satisfying square of Sky Blue 2728 on a cup of tea. It was therefore with thoughts of this potency and a love of handmade books that gave us the great pleasure as we came across this beautiful volume, compiled 320 years ago.

Hand mixed watercolours grace this beautifully crafted, 892 page, 1692 document. Hundreds of painted panels catalogue colours, sitting beside descriptions of how to achieve changes in hue by adding water. An introduction, index of colours and illustrated front sheets accompany. Named simply Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, which roughly translates as Treaty of Colours Used to Paint Water, the text is the only of known of its kind. It’s an astonishing amount of work. The book remains the legacy of otherwise unknown A. Boogert, an art relic and an object of curiosity that captures both the captivation we have with colour, and our desire to catalogue and capture what affects us into something comprehendable. In that spirit the whole work is available to view for free online, to browse through page by page.




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