Friday, 5 July 2013

Moses Harris, Faber Birren and the treasure chests of Yale University libraries

I have returned from a week at the Yale Center for British Art, where I attended a seminar on color, together with nine other colour researchers and fine art students. I have seen many wonderful things in the Rare Books collection of the YCBA and other libraries at Yale and have pushed my myopic eyes and my I-Phone camera to the limit, but I have returned with many beautiful pictures and notes.

Gartside, Turner and Merrifield mingling at the YCBA
At one point I had a first edition of Mary Gartside's Essay on Light and Shade (1805), a1827 copy of a book on colour in art that was once owned and embellished with detailed marginalia by Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, and one of the few Turner sketchbooks outside the Turner Bequest in front of me, with a little rainbow painted by Constable propped up on the table next to me.

A Constable rainbow (in the dark?)

A plate from Faber Birren's copy of Moses Harris's Natural System of Colours, first edition

 Another highlight was to look at a few gems in Faber Birren's collection of colour books. It was the first time I handled a first edition of Moses Harris's Natural System of Colours (between 1769 and 1776). For my Regency Colour display at the Royal Pavilion I borrowed a second edition (1811) from the Colour Reference Library at the Royal College of Art, and while in the U.S. I was lucky to find a copy of Faber Birren's facsimile reprint of it from 1963.
I have blogged properly about this short but utterly beautiful and influential publication on the Royal Pavilion and Museums blog:

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