Michel Eugene Chevreul - the science of colour


"Winslow Homer walked around with Chevreul's book in hand and considered it his bible"

French chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul is the man behind a great many modern (post 19C) masterpieces. His extensive work into colour influnece a great many people including Delaunay (Sonia & Robert), Suerat, Homer & Delacroix. He also invented the colour wheel.

The Colour Wheel

Text below from eHow.com

Michel Chevreul developed his color theory on the basis of knowledge gained while working beginning in 1824 as director of dyes for a company that produced elegant tapestries, the Royal Manufacturers at Gobelins. Chevreul analyzed complaints lodged by customers who were displeased with the tapestries they purchased. Joen Wolfrom, author of "The Magical Effects of Color," states that Chevreul came to the conclusion that troublesome color interactions were to blame for the bulk of these complaints. Thus, Chevreul attempted to identify abiding principles that could help him and others to avoid making unpleasant color combinations.

Optical illusions are sometimes created when bold colors are placed in close proximity to one another, creating pronounced differences between each color. This effect, described by Chevreul, is called simultaneous contrast. Simultaneous contrast may create an optical illusion that appears to lighten or darken the hue of a given color depending on whether it is placed beside a second color that is darker or lighter in hue.

Chevreul also advanced the concept of optical mixing, which explains the manner by which two individual colors blend together to suggest a third color. An example of optical mixing occurs when the two primary colors red and yellow are overlayed upon one another, appearing to create the secondary color orange.

A trained chemist, Chevreul meticulously organized his research in the form of a 72-segment color circle. In his color circle, Chevreul arranged colors in complementary gradations around a white center. As a result, he revealed the way in which colors that are deeply saturated appear to rest in greater contrast this white hub than less saturated colors.

Chevreul's color theory extensively influenced the artist Winslow Homer, who aimed to apply principles described in the theory when creating his paintings. His theory also influence the famed painters Eugène Delacroix and Georges Seurat, as well as exerting influence over a branch of the Cubist movement called Orphic Cubism.

Expert Insight
"Through Chevruel's research and our own experiences, we know that colors are not static. Colors are similar to people--their personalities change and they can be influenced by close associations." -- Joen Wolfrom in "The Magic Effects of Color."

Paintings inspired by Chevruel

George Seurat - Sunday Afternoon Tea

Sonia Delaunay - Prisms Electriques
(This painting is made extra special by the reference to great swiss/french poet Blaise Cendrars!)

Robert Delaunay - Premier Disque

Friday, March 9, 2012 - 13:15