Goethe, Eastlake and Turner: From Colour Theory to Art

Goethe, Eastlake and Turner: From Colour Theory to Art

C.S. KÖnig M.W. Collins 

Institute for Bioengineering, Brunel University, UK

School of Engineering and Design, Brunel University, UK

30 September 2009
| Citation



Wolfgang Goethe was a unique figure in the history of colour theory, being the founder of modern German literature at the same time as being a scientist. His reaction to the colour experiments of Newton was both intense and controversial. It resulted in a comprehensive exposition of colour theory especially relevant to art. As a member of the Royal Academy, the English painter Sir Charles Eastlake was sufficiently gripped by it to translate it into English. J.M.W. Turner annotated this translation and two iconic paintings resulted. Also, Turner exploited any available approaches to colour theory and this broader issue also involves Sir David Brewster and the Scottish Enlightenment. In this paper, we will give an initial study of the sequence from Goethe to Turner, together with the other issues.


WGoethe, JMWTurner, CEastlake, DBrewster, Scottish Enlightenment, colour theory, colour polarity


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