800 page colour book, 271 years before Pantone

Published:  May 8, 2014
Bonnie Abbott

In 1692, a meticulous Dutch artist identifiable only as “A. Boogert” recorded everything he knew about mixing watercolours. Over 800 pages, Boogert visually documented swatches of colour, describing how to create certain hues, tone and tints by adding one, two, or three parts water.

In immense detail, all handpainted and handwritten, this colour book — Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, is thought to be the most comprehensive guide to painting and using colour of its time, yet rivalling even the contemporary scope of Pantone colour books (first published in 1963), even today.

According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, who translated part of the introduction, the colour book was intended as an educational guide, although who he shared it with and how they used it is unknown.

The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France, but is available to view in its entirety, and in high resolution, over on e-corpus.

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