CHEVREUL, Michel Eugène.

The Laws of Contrast of Colour: and their application to the arts of painting, decoration of buildings, mosaic work, tapestry and carpet weaving, calico printing, dress, paper staining, printing, illumination, landscape and flower gardening, &c. Translated from the French by John Spanton.

London: G. Routledge & Co… 1857

Small 8vo, pp. xv, 237, (1) imprint, (2) adverts, colour-printed frontispiece and 3 plates (one with a flap pasted on). Original red-brown cloth, panelled in blind, upper cover and spine lettered in gilt. Slight wear to head of spine otherwise a nice copy. Signature of Henry Roberson on front free endpaper.

First edition of John Spanton’s translation (Martel’s translation appeared in 1854) of Chevreul’s De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs (1839), the classic work which established the general principles of the effects of simultaneous contrast, and the most influential of his many books. “This book was the outcome of his discovery that the apparent intensity and vigor of colors depended less on the pigmentation of material used than on the hue of the neighboring fabric. After many experiments on color contrast Chevreul formulated for the first time the general principles and effects of simultaneous contrast, the modification in hue and tone that occurs when juxtaposed colors are seen simultaneously” (DSB). He created a chromatic circle of 72 colours representing the entire visible spectrum from pure black to pure white, and “believed he had met the need for precise standards in the definition and use of colors and a way of faithfully reproducing any tone of color” (ibid).


In stock

Unsure of some of these terms? Click here to download a copy of Carter & Barker, ABC for Book Collectors (2006), which has full explanations.