James Sowerby

The complete title of Sowerby’s work describes his main concern: «A New Elucidation of Colours, Original Prismatic and Material: Showing Their Concordance in the Three Primitives, Yellow, Red and Blue: and the Means of Producing, Measuring and Mixing Them: with some Observations on the Accuracy of Sir Isaac Newton.» Sowerby’s system originated at the same time as the English doctor and physicist Thomas Young submitted his theory (later to be confirmed) stating that the eye generates all colours by combining only three wavelengths. This «Theory of Trichromatic Vision» is also based on the primary additive colours red, green and blue. (Detailed text)

Date: Sowerby introduced his colour-system in 1809 as a tribute to the “great Sir Isaac Newton”.

Country of origin: England

Basic colours: Red, yellow und blue

Form: Modified triangle

Related systems: HarrisLambertRungeHayterMaxwellEbbinghaus

Bibliography: J. Sowerby, «A New Elucidation of Colours, Original, Prismatic, and Material: Showing their Concordance in Three Primitives, Yellow, Red, and Blue: and the Means of Producing, Measuring, and Mixing Them: with Some Observations on the Accuracy of Sir Isaac Newton», London 1809. «Color Documents: A presentational Theory», organised by S. Wurmfield, Hunter College Art Gallery, New York 1985; John Gage, «Colour and Culture, Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction», Thames and Hudson, 1993, p. 221 (mention and comment).