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Le Blon, J. C., 1667–1741

Coloritto, or, The harmony of colouring in painting : reduced to mechanical practice, under early precepts, and infallible rules : together with some colour'd figures, in order to render the said precepts and rules intelligible, not only to painters, but even to all lovers of painting / by J.C. le Blon.

Additional Title(s):


Harmony of colouring in painting

[London] : [publisher not identified], [1725]
Physical Description:
[4], vii, [2], 6-27, [1], 7, [1] pages, [9] leaves of plates : illustrations ; 31 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio A N 83
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
"Le Blon's invention was based on Newton's theory of light, which held that a few ... primary colors in various combinations composed all the visible colors, and together formed pure white light. Le Blon's process consisted of printing three mezzotint plates, each in one of the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, on the same sheet of paper, thereby reproducing all the compound colors visible in an original picture."--Friedman.
Copies were sold (by W. and J. Innys, or by the author) with or without an Appendix containing four additional plates (see The monthly catalogue, v. 2, 1725, p. 51). See Lilien, page 96.
"Without its appendix Coloritto is illustrated with 5 plates, four of which show the head of a young girl in several stages of colouring ... The fifth plate depicts a painter's palette with 15 patches of paint [applied by hand] marked with capital A to P ... Copies of Coloritto with the appendix contain four more plates of the girl's head with the explanations ..."--Lilien, p. 97. Examination of the Ledoux-Lebard copy (reprint included in Lilien) and the YCBA copy suggests that the Appendix in fact contains two additional plates of the girl's head and two additional plates of the painter's palette.
Text in English and French (on facing pages), with added title page: L'harmonie du coloris dans la peinture ...
Reprinted in Gautier d'Agoty's L'art d'imprimer les tableaux (1756), along with further text (in French only) about the printing process.
Lilien, O.M. Jacob Christoph Le Blon, 1667-1741, p. 88-111, 175-225
Friedman, J.M. Color printing in England, 1486-1870, p. 9
English short title catalogue, T115966
Includes Appendix to the treatise of the Coloritto ...
BAC: British Art Center copy bound with: Walpole, Horace. A catalogue of engravers (London, 1765), as part of James Winter Lake's extra-illustrated copy of the work. Inlaid to size. Includes the appendix and all nine plates. With: "Scheme of colours" (1 hand-colored engraving) by Moses Harris, apparently extracted from Harris's An exposition of English insects (London, 1776), in which it was originally published. Also with Lake's copy, 1 page, in pen and black ink, of the entry for Le Blon that appeared in Walpole's Catalogue of engravers.
Le Blon's only effort to publicize his process of three-color mezzotint printing (based on the mixture of red, yellow, and blue). The text is primarily concerned with the theory of color, and references the Newtonian theory of color, upon which Le Blon's three-color printing process depended.
Subject Terms:
Color in art.
Painting -- Technique.
Mezzotints -- Color -- ca. 1722.
Harris, Moses, 1730-approximately 1788. Exposition of English insects.
W. and J. Innys, bookseller.

Color Printing in England, 1486-1870 (Yale Center for British Art, April 20, 1978-June 25, 1978) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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