Ewald Hering

Hering was more concerned with the introspective aspects of colours. He also spent considerable time investigating the eye’s perception of three-dimensional space. His work on colour refers to the problem of yellow in the three-colour-system, for example. According to Helmholtz, yellow was of necessity produced from a mixture of red and green, but this — so Hering realised — was not in line with human experience. The sensation of yellow is elementary, and not traceable to a mixture. Hering states that there are, in addition to black and white, four colours which «can occur without a tinge of another colour» and recommends that «each visual perception» can be seen as a «mixture of the six basic sensations» which oppose each other and thus interact. (Detailed text)

Date: In 1878, the physiologist Ewald Hering published his On the Theory of Sensibility to Light in Vienna, which opposed the purely phenomenal or physical understanding of colours.

Country of origin: Austria

Basic colours: Blue, red, yellow and blue

Form: Blue, red, yellow and blue

Related systems: Pythagoras, Aristoteles, PlatonMaxwellHelmholtzBlancHöflerBoringBirrenJohanssonHesselgrenN.C.S.C.I.E.L.A.B.Albert-Vanel

Bibliography: E. Hering, «Zur Lehre vom Lichtsinn» (illustration), Vienna 1878; G. A. «Agoston Color Theory and Its Application in Art and Design», Heidelberg 1979; S. Hesselgren, «Why Colour Order Systems?», Color Research and Application 9, pp. 220 – 226 (1984).