Johann Heinrich Lambert

The system attempts to explain the alternating relationships between the colours using a triangular pyramid. The base triangle is black at its centre and carries the basic-colours of cinnibar, King’s yellow and azurite out to the corner points. The seven layers of the pyramid gradually increase in brightness to the white tip. Lambert believed that his system could help textile merchants decide if they stocked all colours; he also hoped that the dyers and printers of his time would find inspiration for their mixtures. (Detailed text)

Date: The astronomer J. Heinrich Lambert, strongly influenced by the work of Tobias Mayer, presented the first three-dimensional colour-system in 1772.

Country of origin: Germany

Basic colours: Cinnibar, King’s yellow and azurite

Form: Triangle

Application: Determination of textile colours

Related systems: MayerSowerbyRungeBezoldWundt

Bibliography: J. H. Lambert, «Beschreibung einer mit dem Calaunischen Wachse ausgemalten Farbenpyramide», Berlin 1772; H. Matile, «Die Farbenlehre Philipp Otto Runges», 2nd edition, Munich 1979; W. Spillmann, «Color Systems», in H. Linton, Color Consulting, New York 1992, pp. 169 – 183.