Colour Coded


In 1972, after an extensive renovation, an old match factory in Aix-en-Provence, France became the city's new municipal library. Bibliotheque Mejanes is home to many books, including a vast collection of medieval manuscripts. It also contains one truly exceptional book – a 900-page handwritten and handpainted guide entitled Traite des couleurs servant a la peinture a l’eau (Treatise on colours used for water painting). This one-off book, written in Dutch by A. Boogert, debuted in 1692. Sadly, little else is known about the author.


Page after page of this well-preserved monograph offers detailed instructions on how to create subtle variations of colours by altering the amount of water one adds to the pigment. The book covers the entire spectrum providing an informative collection of precise examinations of colour.

 Dutch historian Erik Kwakkel, who translated the book says, “In the 17th century, an age known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, this manual would have hit the right spot.” Unfortunately, only a small number of artists were able to see and learn from Boogert’s labour of love.