Richard Waller

Four basic colours—yellow, red, blue and green—are arranged on the sides of a square, the diagonals of which produce the mixtures. His square is the last «obstacle» on the way to Newton, who was occupied with optical experiments from 1670 onwards and substantiated the future arrangement of colours with a basic, physical concept. At this point, it is important to note that we find ourselves at the end of the old view which sees colours as modifications of white light through the addition of darkness. Later, of course, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe will revitalise these ideas of the turbid medium with great vigour. (Detailed text)

Date: The system was introduced in 1686 in a Catalogue of Simple and Mixt Colours.

Country of origin: England

Basic colours: Yellow, red, blue and green

Form: Square

Related systems: KircherNewtonGoethe

Bibliography: R. Waller, «A catalogue of simple and mixt colours», Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, XVI, 1686; F. Gerritsen, «Entwicklung der Farbenlehre», Göttingen 1984; John Gage, «Colour and Culture, Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction», Thames and Hudson, 1993, p.169 (mention and comment).