Hermann Ebbinghaus

The system is based on a double pyramid, the base of which is marked by the four Hering proto-colours. Ebbinghaus rounds off the corners of his solid because the transition between the colours is not sharply defined. The base-square of the double solid is tilted in such a way that yellow hues, which are relatively bright, are nearer to white, and the blue tones, which are relatively dark, are nearer to black. For a long time, the Ebbinghaus double-pyramid represented the last stronghold of phenomenology and resisted the increasing dominance of physiology and its attitude toward the nervous system. With Ebbinghaus, an era came to a close in which colours were simple. From that point onwards, the world of physics could no longer be quite so certain about the nature of light. (Detailed text)

Date: The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus explained his ideas about colours in 1902.

Country of origin: Germany

Basic colours: Red, yellow, green and blue

Form: Double pyramid

Related systems: Grosseteste, Alberti, da VinciSowerbyHeringLuther & Nyberg

Bibliography: H. Ebbinghaus, «Grundzüge der Psychologie», Berlin 1902; H. Ebbinghaus, «Theorie des Farbensehens», Zeitschrift für Psychologie 5, pp. 33-54 (1893).