Tobias Mayer

Tobias Mayer’s colour triangle was first published in 1775 by the Göttinger physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg — more than 12 years after Mayer’s death — in an edition which included other «opera inedita» at the suggestion of Johann Heinrich Lambert, who had used the Mayer triangle three years previously. A colour-triangle operates with the three basic-colours cinnibar, massicot and azurite and gives all mixtures in which at least one twelfth of another colour is added to a base-colour. Black and white are treated as the representatives of light and darkness, which in turn either lighten or darken the colours. (Detailed text)

Date: In 1758, the mathematician Tobias Mayer attempted to define the number of colours that the eye can distinguish with accuracy.

Country of origin: Germany

Basic colours: Red, yellow and blue

Form: Triangle

Related systems: LambertBenson

Bibliography: T. Mayer, «De affinitate colorum commentatio», Göttingen 1775; J. W. von Goethe, «Geschichte der Farbenlehre», Part II, Munich 1963; K. T. A. Halbertsma, «A History of the Theory of Colour», Amsterdam 1949.