Handwritten 19th-Century Color Guide Poetically Describes Where Shades Are Found in Nature

Today, many color-loving creatives aim to illustrate and identify tones found in the natural world. From landscape-based color palettes to real-world Pantone matches, these polychromatic pieces sort and specify the colors that surrounds us. While new technologies have made this task easier than ever, the practice has been popular for centuries, with Abraham Gottlob Werner’s 19th-century book, Nomenclature of Colours, as an extraordinary example.

Nomenclature of Colours served as a must-have reference for artists, scientists, naturalists, and anthropologists alike. The exquisitely rendered guide showcases the earth’s rich range of color by separating it into specific tones. Illustrated only by a small swatch, each handwritten entry is accompanied by a flowery name (like “Arterial Blood Red” and “Velvet Black”) as well as an identifying number. What the book is truly known for, however, is its poetic descriptions of where each tone can be found in nature.

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