The word «harmony» in the title aptly symbolises what Ostwald wanted to achieve with colours. Experience had shown him (and others) that some colour combinations could be seen as pleasant (or harmonious), while others were unpleasant. The question was why, and whether a law could be formulated. With his analysis of colour-harmony, Ostwald proceeds on the basis of his conviction that harmony is created by colour-order.A double-cone is put forward with one white and one black tip between which a stepped grey-scale is arranged, modelled according to a fundamental psychological law. The
Date: Wilhelm Ostwald, the Nobel-prize winner for chemistry, compiled his Die Farbenfibel (The Colour Primer) in 1916/17 in the hope of developing a better understanding of their perceived harmonies.
Country of origin: Germany
Basic colours: Yellow, red, blue and sea-green
Bibliography: W. Ostwald, «Die Farbenfibel», Leipzig 1916; W. Ostwald, «Der Farbatlas», Leipzig 1917; F. Birren, «The Principles of Color», New York 1969; H. Hönl, «Die Ostwaldsche Systematik der Pigmentfarben in ihrem Verhältnis zur Young-Helmholtzschen Dreikomponenten-Theorie», Naturwissenschaften 21, pp. 487-494 and Naturwissenschaften 22, pp. 520-524 (1954); John Gage, «Colour and Culture, Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction», Thames and Hudson, 1993, pp. 247-250 and 257-260.