Michel Eugène Chevreul

The purpose of the system is to establish a law of «Simultaneous Contrast». Leonardo da Vinci had probably been the first to notice that, when observed adjacently, colours will influence each other. Goethe, however, was the first to specifically draw attention to these associated contrasts. Chevreul designed a 72-part colour-circle whose radii, in addition to the three primaries of red, yellow and blue, depict three secondary mixtures of orange, green and violet as well as six further secondary mixtures. The resultant sectors were each subdivided into five zones and all radii were separated into 20 segments to accommodate the different brightness levels. This is the first time that we have been confronted with the active role of the brain in the formation of colours, and we should once more remind ourselves that colours are also effects which are created in the world inside our heads. (Detailed text)

Date: The chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul introduced his (incomplete) attempt at producing a systematic approach to seeing colours in 1839.

Country of origin: France

Basic colours: Red, yellow and blue

Form:Hemisphere, circle

Application: Organisation of colours for the manufacture of textiles.

Related systems: FieldBensonBezoldWundtBlanc

Bibliography: M. E. Chevreul, «De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs et de l’assortiment des object colorés», Paris 1839; A. Hope und M. Walsh, «The Color Compendium», New York 1990; John Gage, «Colour and Culture, Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction», Thames and Hudson, 1993, pp. 173-176.