Chromatics Or, An Essay On The Analogy And Harmony Of Colours.

RA Collection: Book

Record number



London:: Printed For The Author, By A.J. Valpy, Tooke's Court, Chancery Lane; And Sold By Mr. Newman, Soho Square., 1817.

Physical Description

viii, 57, [1] p., [6] pl.: illus.; 293 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

In most copies, including that of the Royal Academy, plates and most illustrations are hand-coloured.
According to F. Schmid, The Colour Circles of Moses Harris. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 30. No. 3 (Sep., 1948), pp.227-230, only 250 copies of this book were published.


[T.p.] - Preface - [Text, with pl.] - Appendix.

Responsibility Note

The author was George Field (1777-1854).

No plate is signed.


RIBA, Early printed, 2 (1995), 1063.

J. Gage, Colour and culture (1993), ch. 12; J. Gage, George Field and his circle: from Romanticism to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood [exhibition catalogue] (1989); D. Brett, 'The aesthetical science: George Field and the "science of beauty"', in Art history, 9:3 (1986 September), p. 336-350; P.D. Schweizer, 'John Constable, rainbow science and English colour theory', in Art bulletin, 64 (1982 September), p. 424-445; J. Schmid, The practice of painting (1948). A broad survey is K.E. Burchett, A bibliographical history of the study and use of color from Aristotle to Kandinsky (2005).

Summary Note

In his Preface the author refers briefly to earlier writers such as Jacques-Christophe Le Blon and Moses Harris. His main text addresses the topics: Chromatics - Particular Relations Of Colours - General Relations, or Harmony Of Colours (Primary Harmonies - Secondary Harmonies - Tertiary Harmonies) - Universal relation Of Colours - An Appendix, Containing Notes, &c. Relating Principally To Transient Colours.

The plates and in-text illustrations show various juxtapositions of colours. The sixth plate (facing p. 32) is captioned, 'Analogous Scale Of Sounds And Colours'.

The author followed this work with his Chromatography (1835) and Rudiments of the painter's art (1850). These works went through several editions in the nineteenth century, each being revised in accordance with technical advances.


Inscribed in red ink on the verso of the title-page, 'Respectfully Presented to the Royal Academy By the Author'. Presented in 1817 (acknowledged RA Council Minutes, V, 424).

Copy Note

On the title-page alongside the words of the imprint, 'Printed For The Author', is inscribed in ink, '= Field'.

Binding Note

19th-century red cloth-covered boards; rebacked in 20th century in green morocco; spine lettered 'Chromatics - Field'.


Colour - Theory
Treatises - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - Hand coloring - Great Britain - 19th century


George Field, author, publisher, previous owner, donor
Abraham John Valpy, printer
Newman, bookseller

Images from this book

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