Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: Colour Circle No.2


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 550 × 758 mm
frame: 700 × 914 × 30 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 179

Display caption

Turner was one of the first theorists to explore the differences and relationships between ‘aerial’ colours, as in light (see the diagram to the left), and ‘material’ colours, as in pigments. In his lecture he explained how the colours of light mix to produce white, while a mixture of material colours creates black.

This diagram is based on a prismatic circle from a book by Moses Harris entitled Natural Systems of Colour about 1770. It shows how in pigments the three primary colours – yellow, blue and red – mix to make a muddy grey.

Gallery label, July 2004

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