Colour

COLOUR IN THE WARBURG INSTITUTE LIBRARY 

A display of books on colour to accompany the conference held on 26 June 
in collaboration with the National Gallery

 

 The Library include various sections pertaining to the theme of colour in subject areas as varied as painting and sculpture, costume, rhetoric, heraldry, alchemy, natural science, philosophy, psychology, festivals, and technology. These highlight the character of the Warburg Library as a Library of problems rather than a mere collection of books.

The following sections are of particular relevance:

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Ancient to Modern Art (1st floor)

Classmark CHH 115 includes medieval anthologies of colour recipies.
CHH 117 includes Heraclius on colour, among the written sources of medieval art.
CHH 135 includes medieval recipes on colour for manuscript illumination.

While the theme of colour is present in sixteenth-century Italian art theory, it becomes the subject of a debate in France from the 1670s onwards. The main sources of the debat du coloris are shelved at: CBH 785and the main studies under CIC 220 (studies on French Art Theory).

The main section on Colour in art begins at classmark CA0 560 as part of a broader section dedicated to art historical problems including: psychology of art, style, space, perspective, colour, followed by symmetry, proportion and rhythm. Read more...

CFN 20 includes publications on artists pigments and CFN 60 on grisaille.
The general section on sculpture, includes a subsection on polychromy (CFO 67, see also CFO 143). Since Spanish sculpture is mostly polychrome the section on Spanish Sculpture, CLO, is by default one on colour in sculpture.

Representation of colour and race is the subject of COC 55, a subsection of the holdings on the representation of the human figure. More on issues related to race and slavery can be found in the Law section (DKD).

Colour features in the collections dedicated to costume (COD). The excessive cost of dye, in particular of purple, meant that wearing purple was a status symbol. Furthermore sumptuary laws legislated not only of the shape of dress but on their colour. See COD 375.
More material on the art and industry of dyeing is shelved in the section on technology located the fourth floor (DFF 197).

 

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Language, Literature, Survival of Classical Literature (2nd floor)

The section of medieval poetics and rhetoric (EAN 100) includes material devoted to the pervasive theme of rhetorical figures and colours. Further material can be found in the Glosa super Graecismum Eberhardi Bethuniensis capitula I-III : de figuris coloribusque rhetoricis.

The main texts on rhetoric, however, are shelved on the 4th floor under Sources of Greek History (HKE) and Roman history (HPH 599 ff)

The NOH section, on pictorial symbols includes some texts on the meaning of colour in Heraldry.
NOA 152 features a study on the meaning of colours and flowers in the Italian Renaissance. 

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Religion, Science, Philosophy (3rd and 4th floor)

Colour plays an important in alchemy in the process of the transmutation of metals 
See e.g. http://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/record=b2341841

There is no colour without sight and no concept of sight without optics.
The main section of studies on optics is classmarked FFF 185
It is followed by a section on light and on the rainbow under classmark FFF 187
Many other sources and studies on optics feature around various sections of the Library. 
These texts can be harvested by keyword searches such as optic* or subject search:
Optics -- Early works to 1800

The section on Botany (FOM) includes literature on cochineal, an insect from which the crimson-coloured natural dye carmine is derived.

BKF 250 includes some studies on colour in Greek and Roman religion.

Ancient, medieval and early modern philosophy include definitions of perception and sensation.
Aristotle's treatise on the soul considers colour the main object of sight. Editions of a book on colour, formerly attibuted to the philosopher are shelved at AKH 248. Studies on colour in Hildgard of Bingen can be found at ABB 755
Telesio wrote a small treatise on colour (see his Varii de naturalibus...) and so did Francis Bacon (Colours of Good and Evil in vol. VII of the Complete Works).

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Social and Political History (4th Floor)

The main section on Psychology and Perception includes several collections dealing with related aspects of colour:

DAD 221 focuses on the phenomena of synesthesia
DAD 225 - DAD 230 approach the question of colour from the angles of the psychology of perception and cultural history of the senses


The section on Music includes a sub-section on music in painting. Colour also exist in sound as confirmed by concepts such as coloratura. See also Olivier Messian's Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie (1949-1992)

Festivals and Tournaments provided many opportunities for the display of heraldic colours.
The section on Technology include books dealing with the art of dyeing and weaving (DFF 197 )

The section on Law includes a collection dedicated to issues related to colour, race and slavery (DKD). See also COC 55 for the iconography of the Black in Western Art.