The “Holy Grail” of Color Discovered (Again!)

As if we needed another reason to travel to Aix-en-Provence, France, an ancient color palette rivaling Pantone has been rediscovered!!! The Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau is over 200 years old and has blown all of us Pantone enthusiasts completely out of the water.

If you know me, you know that I love big books – and this 270-year-old 800-page handwritten color palette collection certainly qualifies!!

The creator, “A. Boogert,” was a Dutch artist, who apparently wanted to document every possible color combination available (sound familiar??), like this fantastical array of blue that I could see coating the walls of more than a couple of my clients’ homes.

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau blue

[image from Colossal]

If you look closely, you can see purple blends that are reminiscent of Pantone’s 2014 color Radiant Orchid. My “opinion” on that color is an entirely different story… (More on that later!)

But this isn’t just a collection of colors… it has some really striking context, too. Just look at how he incorporates this stunning little painting of a butterfly with his colors:

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau butterfly

[image from Erik Kwakkel]

Because only one handwritten copy was ever made of this, it never got the attention it deserves. Now I see it sliding its way into the design world with reprints as we all wonder how we’ve all missed out on it for so long.

I haven’t been to the Bibliothèque Méjanes to see it yet, but you know I’ll take any excuse I can to see some French style in person 😉

Visit discoverer Erik Kwaakel’s blog to learn more – and let me know what you think in the comments!

[Banner image from Erik Kwakkel]

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Jill Abelman

Jill is the Mad Designer on a mission. Leading her team with an unforgettable personality and impeccable taste, clients know to come to her for the best. With the characteristic "organiglam" style and a decided air of good taste, she'll tell you, once and for all, what works in the best home designs.

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