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Friday, April 24, 2015

Quantifying color


From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
Every artist I know loves color swatches—especially those done by other artists. Old ones are particularly interesting, since there wasn’t much unified color theory until the Impressionists came along. 

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
A few years ago I wrote about Saussure’s Cyanometer, which attempted to measure how blue the sky was. Today I’d like to introduce you to A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments,  Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau. This was published in 1692, putting it square in the Dutch Golden Age of Painting. It was intended as an educational tool for artists, but, alas, there was no color printing technology at the time, so its reach was limited.

Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints, mix colors, and dilute the pigment. To illustrate his methodology, he filled 700 pages with exacting shades of color.  Then he indexed all the colors he described.

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
The book was shelved and forgotten at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France until art historian Erik Kwakkel published selections from it last year.

Click here to see scans of Boogert’s paint samples.

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

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