Handpainted Color Guide From 1692 Is Pre-Modern Pantone

A. Boogert, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau (1692), one spread. Photo: via Colossus.
A. Boogert, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau (1692), one spread. Photo: via Colossus.

An amazing 17th-century book by an artist named A. Boogert was the Pantone Color Guide of its day, reports Colossal. With 800 pages of handwritten and hand-painted color samples and careful directions on how to mix them with watercolors, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau was incredibly ambitious and still impresses today.

The book, which Boogert began work on in 1692, is written in Dutch. Part of the introduction has been translated by Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, and it appears that the magnum color opus was created for instructional purposes. However, due to the enormity of the task and the difficulty in perfectly replicating all of the different colors, it seems likely that there was only ever one copy.

Boogert achieved his subtle variations of hue and tone by using different pigments diluted by one, two, or three parts water. Presumably, he created a comprehensive guide to watercolor painting that was unparalleled in its time.

The book’s contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, was first published in 1963.

If you want to see the book in person, it belongs to the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France.


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