Before we had Pantone Color Guide, there was no universally recognized system to identify colors. But there were attempts to make it, and probably the most impressive one came from the artist known only as A. Boogert, who back in 1692 created an impressive piece of literature about mixing colors.


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Handwritten in Dutch, the “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau“ was an 800-page long guide on color and paint that was probably the most comprehensive piece on colors at the time. It featured color samples, descriptions and even instructions on how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water.

Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel was the one who got the chance to examine the book, and as he translated part of the introduction, he concluded that the color book was intended as an educational guide. Sadly, there’s only a single copy of the book known to exist, so probably only a couple of the privileged few got to be educated by it.

The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France.

More info: Erik Kwakkel (h/t: colossal, demilked)