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Nature's Palette

A colour reference system from the natural world

Patrick Baty, Peter Davidson, Elaine Charwat, Giulia Simonini, André Karliczek


The first-ever visual expansion of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, featuring over 800 illustration references from the natural world

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This chromatic catalogue of the natural world pairs individual colour swatches with examples from the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms to create a beautiful and comprehensive colour reference system to grace every bookshelf.

Marking the 200th anniversary of the publication of Syme’s expanded edition of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours (1821), this lavish volume takes Syme’s field guide of 110 standard colours and – for the first time – fully illustrates it with nineteenth-century depictions of his referenced species. Expert text explains the uses and development of colour standards in relation to zoology, botany, minerology and anatomy, while specimens from contemporary collector’s cabinets (birds, butterflies, eggs, flowers and minerals) are matched to each colour swatch. Syme’s groundbreaking guide attempted to establish a universal colour reference system to help identify, classify and represent species from the natural world: this landmark publication completes his endeavour.

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'Patrick Baty shares the beauty of our world through a rich and diverse palette'

'This new version of Syme’s book provides new examples for each hue the artist described but it also lays bare how endless is the project of classifying colour'
The Age

'Fascinating, lavishly illustrated … the essays by four leading experts are both informative and accessible … a very enjoyable read'
House & Garden

'Utterly beguiling'

'Like a beautiful antique cabinet of curiosities … a delight to delve into … An evocative exploration of all the shades of the natural world'
The Simple Things

'This is a beautiful book, a fascinating object in itself'
Amateur Photographer

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound (no jacket)

Size: 26.4 x 20.6 cm

Extent: 290 pp

Illustrations: 1000

Publication date: 8 April 2021

ISBN: 9780500252468

Contents List

Introduction The Origination, Purpose and Development of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by Patrick Baty • i. Whites, Greys and Blacks • 1. Werner’s Mineralogical System and how his Nomenclature of Colours Became Syme’s Colour Standard by Peter Davidson • ii. Blues and Purples • 2. Colours in Zoology: Subjective or Systematic? by Elaine Charwat • iii. Greens • 3. Syme’s Colour Chart in Botany: Origin and Impact by Giulia Simonini • iv. Yellows and Oranges • 4. One for All? Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours as a General Standard of Colour and its Particular Use in Medicine by André Karliczek • v. Reds and Browns

About the Author

Patrick Baty is the author of The Anatomy of Colour and owner of Papers and Paints, a specialist paint business in London. His great grandfather, the artist Robert Bevan, was described by a former director of the National Gallery as being ‘perhaps the first Englishman to use pure colour in the 20th century’. He runs a consultancy that advises on the use of paint and colours in historic buildings and has worked with Dulux and Little Greene to develop ranges of traditional paint colours for English Heritage. He also lectures frequently on the subject of paint and colour of the 18th and 19th centuries.

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