Who Painted This 300-Year-Old Guidebook to Every Imaginable Colour?

By Sarah Zhang on at

More than two centuries before Pantone divided the visible spectrum into six-digit colour codes, a mysterious Dutch artist crafted this extraordinary guide to painting in watercolour. Hundreds of subtly varying colours were mixed by hand for this one-of-a-kind, encyclopaedic volume.

Dutch book historian Erik Kwakkel recently rediscovered Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst in the online archives of the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France. There's only one recorded copy of the handwritten and handpainted book—thanks to the internet, its readership has probably grown exponentially after Kwakkel posted it on his blog.

Who Painted This 300-Year-Old Guidebook to Every Imaginable Color?

Details about the book's origins are scant. The author is known only as A. Boogert, and the introduction suggests the book was written has an instruction manual. Painted swatches illustrate the instructions that describe how to alter a colour by adding "one, two or three portions of water."

For art historians, readers of Dutch script, and anyone else who wants to ogle pretty colours, the entire book is available here and its record here. Find anything interesting in the 800 pages? We'd love to hear from you in the comments. [Erik Kwakkel via This Is Colossal]

Who Painted This 300-Year-Old Guidebook to Every Imaginable Color?

Who Painted This 300-Year-Old Guidebook to Every Imaginable Color?

Who Painted This 300-Year-Old Guidebook to Every Imaginable Color?