colors and a bit of science

I want to tell about the publication ¨Werners nomenclature of colors¨ by Patrick Syme, published 1821.

It is a classification with names and descriptions of colors as they occur in nature.

It was the German geologist Gottlob Werner who published in 1774 a description of minerals. The minerals were described in terms of color, among other things. Different was that he didn´t use just names like grey, black, yellow, etc. But he distinguished and named colors like ash grey, smoke grey, pearl grey. This way he distinguished 97 colors. Further he described the components of each color for the eye, for example smoke grey is ash grey with a little brown.

His student Robert Jameson became a professor in Edinburgh. He possesed a mineral collection, and connected the descriptions of Werner with the actual minerals. Also he introduced the work to Patrick Syme, a botanical painter.

It was Syme who made accompanying color charts. He added referrings to the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Also he added some colors to a total of amount of 110 colors.

It was the intention of Syme to make a standard for colors thus making it possible to improve knowledge about colours. To be able to describe and analyse colours correctly, and to train the eye for the subtle differences.

Looking back it is interesting to me that this work is published in 1821. This was before the accidental dicovery of the pigment mauve in 1856 which was the first in a long row of synthetic pigments. Except for prussian Blue, that was discovered in 1704 and a few other pigments there were only natural colors in this time.

My edition is re-print from 2017. The publisher has tried to approximate the colorcards as they must have been originally, as good as possible. I was tempted to compare my homemade natural watercolors with the charts in this book to see if they would match. What do you think?