First published in 1814, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours is a taxonomic guide to colour which been cherished by naturalists and anthropologists for over two centuries – not least by Charles Darwin who found it an indispensable tool during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. Now these charming, handmade colour swatches have been recreated as a box with 50 postcards. Each card reproduces a colour swatch alongside its original poetic description and is matched with an animal, plant, and mineral example according to Werner’s unique scheme. They are printed on high-quality art board card with a matt finish to send to a friend or use for artistic inspiration. These curious keepsakes will be treasured by artists and scientists alike.
Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749-1817), was an eminent mineralogist and geologist. In his 1774 book On the External Characteristics of Minerals he put forward a system for the classification of colour in order to describe and classify all characteristics of fossils. Werner’s system was known to natural philosophers – other than geologists – and was considered a valuable aid for the organisation of colour into the nineteenth century.
Patrick Syme (1774-1845) was an Edinburgh flower painter and teacher of art. He was introduced to Werner’s work through another resident of the city, Robert Jameson, one of Werner’s favourite pupils. Jameson reconstructed Werner’s colours from his list using actual minerals, and these formed the basis for Syme’s colour samples.