Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

By P. Syme

A recreation of the original 1821 color guidebook with new cross references, photographic examples, and posters designed by Nicholas Rougeux

Explore »

Colors

Explore all 110 colors painted by Syme with photos of where to find each color as outlined in the original guide.

Posters

Decorate your walls with creative data visualizations designed to highlight the beautiful colors used in the original guidebook.

Original guidebook

See scans of the original guidebook created by Syme from 1821 that Charles Darwin consulted during his voyages.

Colors

These colors are scans of the original swatches Syme painted in the 18th century extracted from the scanned copy on the Internet Archive. While the original colors have aged, they have been preserved here as in the original in an effort to faithfully reproduce the guide. Punctuation and capitalization can be unusual in places because it is the same as in the original.

Whites

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Snow White swatch
    1. Snow White*
    Breast of the black-headed Gull.
    Snow-Drop.
    Carara Marble and Calc Sinter.
    None

    Snow White, is the characteristic colour of the whites; it is the purest white colour; being free of all intermixture, it resembles new-fallen snow. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Reddish White swatch
    2. Reddish White
    Egg of Grey Linnet
    Back of the Christmas Rose.
    Porcelain Earth.
    • Snow White
    • Crimson Red
    • Ash Grey

    Reddish White, is composed of snow white, with a very minute portion of crimson red and ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Purplish White swatch
    3. Purplish White
    Junction of the Neck and Back of the Kittiwake Gull.
    White Geranium or Storks Bill.
    Arragonite.
    • Snow White
    • Crimson Red
    • Berlin Blue
    • Ash Grey

    Purplish White, is snow white, with the slightest tinge of crimson red and Berlin blue, and a very minute portion of ash grey.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Yellowish White swatch
    4. Yellowish White
    Egret.
    Hawthorn Blossom.
    Chalk and Tripoli.
    • Snow White
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Ash Grey

    Yellowish White, is composed of snow white, with a very little lemon yellow and ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Orange coloured White swatch
    5. Orange coloured White
    Breast of White or Screech Owl.
    Large Wild Convolvulus.
    French Porcelain Clay.
    • Snow White
    • Tile Red
    • Kings Yellow
    • Ash Grey

    Orange-coloured White, is snow white, with a very small portion of tile red and king's yellow, and a minute portion of ash grey.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greenish White swatch
    6. Greenish White
    Vent Coverts of Golden crested Wren.
    Polyanthus Narcissus.
    Calc sinter.
    • Snow White
    • Emerald Green
    • Ash Grey

    Greenish White, is snow white, mixed with a very little emerald green and ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Skimmed milk White swatch
    7. Skimmed milk White
    White of the Human Eyeballs.
    Back of the Petals of Blue Hepatica.
    Common Opal.
    • Snow White
    • Berlin Blue
    • Ash Grey

    Skimmed-milk White, is snow white, mixed with a little Berlin blue and ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greyish White swatch
    8. Greyish White
    Inside Quill-feathers of the Kittiwake.
    White Hamburgh Grapes.
    Granular Limestone.
    • Snow White
    • Ash Grey

    Greyish White, is snow white, mixed with a little ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Greys

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Ash Grey swatch
    9. Ash Grey*
    Breast of long tailed Hen Titmouse.
    Fresh Wood ashes.
    Flint.
    • Snow White
    • Smoke Grey
    • French Grey
    • Yellowish Grey
    • Carmine Red

    Ash Grey, is the characteristic colour of Werner's Greys; he gives no description of its component parts; it is composed of snow white, with portions of smoke and French grey, and a very little yellowish grey and carmine red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Smoke Grey swatch
    10. Smoke Grey
    Breast of the Robin round the Red.
    Flint.
    • Ash Grey
    • Chestnut Brown

    Smoke Grey, is ash grey mixed with a little brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • French Grey swatch
    11. French Grey
    Breast of Pied Wag tail.
    • Greyish White
    • Velvet Black
    • Carmine Red

    French Grey, nearly the steel grey of Werner, without the lustre, is greyish white, with a slight tinge of black and carmine red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Pearl Grey swatch
    12. Pearl Grey
    Backs of black headed and Kittiwake Gulls.
    Back of Petals of Purple Hepatica.
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Ash Grey
    • Crimson Red
    • Berlin Blue
    • Bluish Grey
    • Arterial Blood Red

    Pearl Grey, is ash grey mixed with a little crimson red and blue, or bluish grey with a little red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Yellowish Grey swatch
    13. Yellowish Grey
    Vent coverts of White Rump.
    Stems of the Barberry.
    Common Calcedony.
    • Ash Grey
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Chestnut Brown

    Yellowish Grey, is ash grey mixed with lemon yellow and a minute portion of brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Bluish Grey swatch
    14. Bluish Grey
    Back and tail Coverts Wood Pigeon.
    Limestone
    • Ash Grey
    • Berlin Blue

    Bluish Grey, is ash grey mixed with a little blue. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greenish Grey swatch
    15. Greenish Grey
    Quill feathers of the Robin.
    Bark of Ash Tree.
    Clay Slate Wacke.
    • Ash Grey
    • Emerald Green
    • Velvet Black
    • Lemon Yellow

    Greenish Grey, is ash grey mixed with a little emerald green, a small portion of black, and a little lemon yellow. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Blackish Grey swatch
    16. Blackish Grey
    Back of Nut-hatch.
    Old Stems of Hawthorn.
    Flint.
    • Ash Grey
    • Berlin Blue
    • Velvet Black

    Blackish Grey, a blackish lead grey of Werner without the lustre is ash grey, with a little blue and a portion of black.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Blacks

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Greyish Black swatch
    17. Greyish Black
    Water Ousel. Breast and upper Part of Back of Water Hen.
    Basalt.
    • Velvet Black
    • Ash Grey

    Greyish Black, is composed of velvet black, with a portion of ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Bluish Black swatch
    18. Bluish Black
    Largest Black Slug
    Crowberry.
    Black Cobalt Ochre.
    • Velvet Black
    • Berlin Blue
    • Blackish Grey

    Bluish Black, is velvet black, mixed with a little blue and blackish grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greenish Black swatch
    19. Greenish Black
    Breast of Lapwing
    Hornblende
    • Velvet Black
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Emerald Green

    Greenish Black, is velvet black, mixed with a little brown, yellow, and green. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Pitch or Brownish Black swatch
    20. Pitch or Brownish Black
    Guillemot Wing Coverts of Black Cock.
    Yenite mica
    • Velvet Black
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Gamboge Yellow

    Pitch, or Brownish Black, is velvet black, mixed with a little brown and yellow. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Reddish Black swatch
    21. Reddish Black
    Spots on Large Wings of Tyger Moth. Breast of Pochard Duck.
    Berry of Fuchsia Coccinea.
    Oliven ore
    • Velvet Black
    • Carmine Red
    • Chestnut Brown

    Reddish Black, is velvet black, mixed with a very little carmine red, and a small portion of chestnut brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Ink Black swatch
    22. Ink Black
    Berry of Deadly Night Shade
    Oliven ore
    • Velvet Black
    • Berlin Blue

    Ink Black, is velvet black, with a little indigo blue in it.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Velvet Black swatch
    23. Velvet Black*
    Mole. Tail Feathers of Black Cock.
    Black of Red and Black West-Indian peas.
    Obsidian
    None

    Velvet Black, is the characteristic colour of the blacks; it is the colour of black velvet. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Blues

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Scotch Blue swatch
    24. Scotch Blue
    Throat of Blue Titmouse.
    Stamina of Single Purple Anemone.
    Blue Copper Ore.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Velvet Black
    • Ash Grey
    • Carmine Red

    Scotch Blue, is Berlin blue, mixed with a considerable portion of velvet black, a very little grey, and a slight tinge of carmine red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Prussian Blue swatch
    25. Prussian Blue
    Beauty Spot on Wing of Mallard Drake.
    Stamina of Bluish Purple Anemone.
    Blue Copper Ore
    • Berlin Blue
    • Velvet Black
    • Indigo Blue

    Prussian Blue, is Berlin blue, with a considerable portion of velvet black, and a small quantity of indigo blue.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Indigo Blue swatch
    26. Indigo Blue
    Blue Copper Ore.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Velvet Black
    • Apple Green

    Indigo Blue, is composed of berlin blue, a little black, and a small portion of apple green.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • China Blue swatch
    27. China Blue
    Rhynchites Nitens
    Back Parts of Gentian Flower.
    Blue Copper Ore from Chessy.
    • Azure Blue
    • Prussian Blue

    China Blue, is azure blue, with a little prussian blue in it.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Azure Blue swatch
    28. Azure Blue
    Breast of Emerald-crested Manakin
    Grape Hyacinth. Gentian.
    Blue Copper Ore.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Carmine Red

    Azure Blue, is Berlin blue, mixed with a little carmine red: it is a burning colour. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Ultramarine Blue swatch
    29. Ultramarine Blue
    Upper Side of the Wings of small blue Heath Butterfly.
    Borrage.
    Azure Stone or Lapis Lazuli.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Azure Blue

    Ultramarine Blue, is a mixture of equal parts of Berlin and azure blue.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Flax-Flower Blue swatch
    30. Flax-Flower Blue
    Light Parts of the Margin of the Wings of Devil’s Butterfly.
    Flax flower.
    Blue Copper Ore
    • Berlin Blue
    • Ultramarine Blue

    Flax-Flower Blue, is Berlin blue, with a slight tinge of ultramarine blue.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Berlin Blue swatch
    31. Berlin Blue*
    Wing Feathers of Jay.
    Hepatica.
    Blue Sapphire.
    None

    Berlin Blue, is the pure, or characteristic colour of Werner. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Verditter Blue swatch
    32. Verditter Blue
    Lenticular Ore.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Verdigris Green

    Verditter Blue, is Berlin blue, with a small portion of verdigris green.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greenish Blue swatch
    33. Greenish Blue
    Great Fennel Flower.
    Turquoise or Flour Spar.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Snow White
    • Emerald Green

    Greenish Blue, the sky blue of Werner, is composed of Berlin blue, white, and a little emerald green. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Greyish Blue swatch
    34. Greyish Blue
    Back of blue Titmouse
    Small Fennel Flower.
    Iron Earth.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Snow White
    • Ash Grey
    • Arterial Blood Red

    Greyish Blue, the smalt blue of Werner, is composed of Berlin blue, with white, a small quantity of grey, and a hardly perceptible portion of red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Purples

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Bluish Lilac Purple swatch
    35. Bluish Lilac Purple
    Male of the Lebellula Depressa.
    Blue Lilac.
    Lepidolite.
    • Bluish Purple
    • Snow White

    Bluish Lilac Purple, is bluish purple and white.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Bluish Purple swatch
    36. Bluish Purple
    Papilio Argeotus. Azure Blue Butterfly.
    Parts of White and Purple Crocus.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Carmine Red

    Bluish Purple, is composed of about equal parts of Berlin blue and carmine red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Violet Purple swatch
    37. Violet Purple
    Purple Aster.
    Amethyst.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Chestnut Brown

    Violet Purple, violet blue of Werner, is Berlin blue mixed with red, and a little brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Pansy Purple swatch
    38. Pansy Purple
    Chrysomela Goettingensis.
    Sweet-scented Violet.
    Derbyshire Spar.
    • Indigo Blue
    • Carmine Red
    • Unknown color

    Pansy Purple, is indigo blue, with carmine red, and a slight tinge of Unknown colorraven black.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

    • Leaf beetle (chrysomela goettingensis)

      Photo: gbohne

    • Scented violets

      Photo: Hans

    • Bowl made from Derbyshire spar

      Photo: Andy Mabbett

  • Campanula Purple swatch
    39. Campanula Purple*
    Canterbury Bell. Campanula Persicifolia.
    Fluor Spar.
    • Ultramarine Blue
    • Carmine Red

    Campanula Purple, is ultramarine blue and carmine red, about equal parts of each: it is the characteristic colour.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Imperial Purple swatch
    40. Imperial Purple
    Deep Parts of Flower of Saffron Crocus.
    Fluor Spar.
    • Azure Blue
    • Indigo Blue
    • Carmine Red

    Imperial Purple, is azure and indigo blue, with carmine red, about equal parts of each.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Auricula Purple swatch
    41. Auricula Purple
    Egg of largest Bluebottle. or Flesh Fly.
    Largest Purple Auricula.
    Fluor Spar.
    • Plum Purple
    • Indigo Blue
    • Carmine Red

    Auricula Purple, is plum purple, with indigo blue and much carmine red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Plum Purple swatch
    42. Plum Purple
    Plum.
    Fluor Spar.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Carmine Red
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Velvet Black

    Plum Purple, the plum blue of Werner, is composed of Berlin blue, with much carmine red, a very little brown, and an almost imperceptible portion of black. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Red Lilac Purple swatch
    43. Red Lilac Purple
    Light Spots of the upper Wings of Peacock Butterfly.
    Red Lilac. Pale Purple Primrose.
    Lepidolite.
    • Campanula Purple
    • Snow White
    • Carmine Red

    Red Lilac Purple, is campanula purple, with a considerable portio of snow white, and a very little carmine red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Lavender Purple swatch
    44. Lavender Purple
    Light Parts of Spots on the under Wings of Peakcock Butterfly.
    Dried Lavender Flowers.
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Berlin Blue
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Ash Grey

    Lavender Purple, the lavender blue of Werner, is composed of blue, red, and a little brown and grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Pale Blackish Purple swatch
    45. Pale Blackish Purple
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Lavender Purple
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Velvet Black

    Pale Bluish Purple, is lavender purple mixed with a little red and black.†

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Greens

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts

Yellows

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Sulphur Yellow swatch
    62. Sulphur Yellow
    Yellow Parts of large Dragon Fly.
    Various Coloured Snap dragon.
    Sulphur
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Emerald Green
    • Snow White

    Sulphur Yellow, is lemon yellow mixed with emerald green and white. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Primrose Yellow swatch
    63. Primrose Yellow
    Pale Canary Bird.
    Wild Primrose
    Pale coloured Sulphur.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Sulphur Yellow
    • Snow White

    Primrose Yellow, is gamboge yellow mixed with a little sulphur yellow, and much snow white.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Wax Yellow swatch
    64. Wax Yellow
    Larva of large Water Beetle.
    Greenish Parts of Nonpareil Apple.
    Semi Opal.
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Deep Reddish Brown
    • Ash Grey

    Wax Yellow, is composed of lemon yellow, reddish brown, and a little ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Lemon Yellow swatch
    65. Lemon Yellow
    Large Wasp or Hornet
    Shrubby Goldylocks.
    Yellow Orpiment.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Ash Grey

    Lemon Yellow, the characteristic colour of the yellow series of Werner, the colour of ripe lemons; W. it is found to be a mixture of gamboge yellow and a little ash grey: being a mixed colour, it cannot be adopted as the characteristic colour; the characteristic colours of the blues, reds, and yellows ought to be pure and free from all intermixture with any other colour; gamboge, as the purest yellow colour, is adopted instead of lemon yellow, as the characteristic colour of the yellows.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Gamboge Yellow swatch
    66. Gamboge Yellow*
    Wings of Goldfinch. Canary Bird.
    Yellow Jasmine.
    High coloured Sulphur.
    None

    Gamboge Yellow, is the characteristic colour.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Kings Yellow swatch
    67. Kings Yellow
    Head of Golden Pheasant.
    Yellow tulip. Cinque foil.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Saffron Yellow

    Kings Yellow, is gamboge yellow, with a small portion of saffron yellow.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Saffron Yellow swatch
    68. Saffron Yellow
    Tail Coverts of Golden Pheasant.
    Anhers of Saffron Grocus.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Gallstone Yellow

    Saffron Yellow, is gamboge yellow, with gallstone yellow, about equal parts of each.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Gallstone Yellow swatch
    69. Gallstone Yellow
    Gallstones.
    Marigold Apple.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Dutch Orange
    • Honey Yellow

    Gallstone Yellow, is gamboge yellow, with a small quantity of Dutch orange, and a minute portion of honey yellow.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Honey Yellow swatch
    70. Honey Yellow
    Lower Parts of Neck of Bird of Paradise.
    Fluor Spar.
    • Sulphur Yellow
    • Chestnut Brown

    Honey Yellow, is sulphur yellow mixed with chestnut brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Straw Yellow swatch
    71. Straw Yellow
    Polar Bear.
    Oat Straw.
    Schorlite. Calamine.
    • Sulphur Yellow
    • Greyish White
    • Ochre Yellow

    Straw Yellow, is sulphur yellow mixed with much greyish white and a little ochre yellow. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Wine Yellow swatch
    72. Wine Yellow
    Body of Silk Moth.
    White Currants.
    Saxon Topaz.
    • Sulphur Yellow
    • Deep Reddish Brown
    • Ash Grey
    • Snow White

    Wine Yellow, is sulphur yellow mixed with reddish brown and grey, with much snow white. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Sienna Yellow swatch
    73. Sienna Yellow
    Vent Parts of Tail of Bird of Paradise.
    Stamina of Honey-suckle.
    Pale Brazilian Topaz.
    • Primrose Yellow
    • Ochre Yellow

    Sienna Yellow, is primrose yellow, with a little ochre yellow.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Ochre Yellow swatch
    74. Ochre Yellow
    Vent Coverts of Red Start.
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Sienna Yellow
    • Chestnut Brown

    Ochre Yellow, is sienna yellow, with a litlte light chestnut brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Cream Yellow swatch
    75. Cream Yellow
    Breast of Teal Drake.
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Ochre Yellow
    • Snow White
    • Dutch Orange

    Cream Yellow, is ochre yellow mixed with a little white and a very small quantity of Dutch orange. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Oranges

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Dutch Orange swatch
    76. Dutch Orange
    Crest of Golden crested Wren.
    Common Marigold. Seedpod of Spindle-tree.
    Streak of Red Orpiment.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Carmine Red

    Dutch Orange, the orange yellow of Werner, is gamboge yellow, with carmine red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Buff Orange swatch
    77. Buff Orange
    Streak from the Eye of the King Fisher.
    Stamina of the large White Cistus.
    Natrolite.
    • Sienna Yellow
    • Dutch Orange

    Buff Orange, is sienna yellow, with a little Dutch Orange.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Orpiment Orange swatch
    78. Orpiment Orange*
    The Neck Ruff of the Golden Pheasant. Belly of the Warty Newt.
    Indian Cress.
    • Gamboge Yellow
    • Arterial Blood Red

    Orpiment Orange, the characteristic colour, is about equal parts of gamboge yellow and arterial blood red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Brownish Orange swatch
    79. Brownish Orange
    Eyes of the largest Flesh Fly.
    Style of the Orange Lily.
    Dark Brazilian Topaz.
    • Orpiment Orange
    • Hyacinth Red
    • Chestnut Brown

    Brownish Orange, is orpiment orange, with a little hyacinth red, and a small quantity of light chestnut brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Reddish Orange swatch
    80. Reddish Orange
    Lower Wings of Tyger Moth.
    Hemimeris. Buff Hibiscus.
    • Buff Orange
    • Tile Red

    Reddish Orange, is buff orange mixed with a considerable portion of tile red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Deep Reddish Orange swatch
    81. Deep Reddish Orange
    Gold Fish lustre abstracted.
    Scarlet Leadington Apple.
    • Dutch Orange
    • Scarlet Red

    Deep Reddish Orange, is Dutch orange mixed with much scarlet red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

    • Goldfish

      Photo: ぱたごん

    • Reddish orange apple (scarlet leadington photo not available)

      Photo: Couleur

Reds

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Tile Red swatch
    82. Tile Red
    Breast of the Cock Bullfinch.
    Shrubby Pimpernel.
    Porcelain Jasper.
    • Hyacinth Red
    • Greyish White
    • Scarlet Red

    Tile Red, is hyacinth red mixed with much greyish white, and a small portion of scarlet red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Hyacinth Red swatch
    83. Hyacinth Red
    Red Spots of the Lygœns Apterus Fly.
    Red on the golden Rennette Apple.
    Hyacinth.
    • Scarlet Red
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Chestnut Brown

    Hyacinth Red, is scarlet red, with lemon yellow and a minute proportion of brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Scarlet Red swatch
    84. Scarlet Red
    Scarlet Ibis or Curlew. Mark on the Head of Red Grouse.
    Large red Oriental Poppy. Red Parts of red and black Indian Peas.
    Light red Cinnaber.
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Gamboge Yellow

    Scarlet Red, is arterial blood red, with a little gamboge yellow.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Vermilion Red swatch
    85. Vermilion Red
    Red Coral.
    Love Apple.
    Cinnaber.
    • Scarlet Red
    • Brownish Red

    Vermilion Red, is scarlet red, with a minute portion of brownish red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Aurora Red swatch
    86. Aurora Red
    Vent converts of Pied Wood-Pecker.
    Red on the Naked Apple.
    Red Orpiment.
    • Tile Red
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Carmine Red

    Aurora Red, is tile red, with a little arterial blood red, and a slight tinge of carmine red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Arterial Blood Red swatch
    87. Arterial Blood Red*
    Head of the Cock Gold-finch.
    Corn Poppy Cherry.
    None

    Aterial Blood Red, is the characteristic colour of the red series.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Flesh Red swatch
    88. Flesh Red
    Human Skin.
    Larkspur.
    Heavy Spar. Limestone.
    • Rose Red
    • Snow White

    Flesh Red, is rose red mixed with tile red and a little white. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Rose Red swatch
    89. Rose Red
    Common Garden Rose.
    Figure Stone.
    • Carmine Red
    • Snow White
    • Cochineal Red

    Rose Red, is carmine red, with a great quantity of snow white, and a very small portion of cochineal red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Peach Blossom Red swatch
    90. Peach Blossom Red
    Peach Blossom.
    Red Cobolt Ore.
    • Lake Red
    • Snow White

    Peach Blossom Red, is lake red mixed with much white. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Carmine Red swatch
    91. Carmine Red
    Raspberry. Cocks Comb. Carnation Pink.
    Oriental Ruby.
    • Lake Red
    • Arterial Blood Red

    Carmine Red, the characteristic colour of Werner is lake red, with a little arterial blood red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Lake Red swatch
    92. Lake Red
    Red Tulip. Rose Officinalus.
    Spinel.
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Berlin Blue

    Lake Red, the crimson red of Werner, is arterial blood red, with a portion of Berlin blue. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Crimson Red swatch
    93. Crimson Red
    Precious Garnet.
    • Carmine Red
    • Indigo Blue

    Crimson Red, is carmine red, with a little indigo blue. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Purplish Red swatch
    94. Purplish Red
    Outside of Quills of Terico.
    Dark Crimson Officinal Garden Rose.
    Precious Garnet.
    • Carmine Red
    • Berlin Blue
    • Indigo Blue

    Purplish Red, the columbine red of Werner, is carmine red, with a little Berlin blue, and a small portion of indigo blue. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Cochineal Red swatch
    95. Cochineal Red
    Under Disk of decayed Leaves of None-so-pretty.
    Dark Cinnaber
    • Lake Red
    • Bluish Black

    Cochineal Red, is lake red mixed with bluish grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

    • Sweet William catchfly (aka none-so-pretty)

      Photo: T.Voekler

    • Cinnabar (aka cinnaber)

      Photo: JJ Harrison

  • Veinous Blood Red swatch
    96. Veinous Blood Red
    Veinous Blood.
    Musk Flower, or dark Purple Scabious.
    Pyrope.
    • Carmine Red
    • Pitch or Brownish Black

    Veinous Blood Red, is carmine red mixed with brownish black. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Brownish Purple Red swatch
    97. Brownish Purple Red
    Flower of deadly Nightshade.
    Red Antimony Ore.
    • Lake Red
    • Pitch or Brownish Black
    • Ash Grey

    Brownish Purple Red, the cherry red of Werner, is lake red mixed with brownish black and a small portion of grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Chocolate Red swatch
    98. Chocolate Red
    Breast of Bird of Paradise.
    Brown Disk of common Marigold.
    • Veinous Blood Red
    • Brownish Red

    Chocoloate Red is veinous blood red mixed with a little brownish red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Brownish Red swatch
    99. Brownish Red
    Mark on Throat of Red-throated Diver.
    Iron Flint.
    • Chocolate Red
    • Hyacinth Red
    • Chestnut Brown

    Brownish Red, is chocolate red mixed with hyacinth red and a little chestnut brown. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

Browns

Color
Name
Animal
Vegetable
Mineral
Parts
  • Deep Orange-coloured Brown swatch
    100. Deep Orange-coloured Brown
    Head of Pochard. Wing coverts of Sheldrake.
    Female Spike of Catstail Reed.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Deep Reddish Brown
    • Unknown color

    Deep Orange-coloured Brown, is chestnut brown, with a little reddish brown, and a small quantity of Unknown colororange brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Deep Reddish Brown swatch
    101. Deep Reddish Brown
    Breast of Pochard, and Neck of Teal Drake.
    Dead Leaves of green Panic Grass.
    Brown Blende.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Chocolate Red

    Deep Reddish Brown, is chestnut brown with a little chocolate red.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Umber Brown swatch
    102. Umber Brown
    Moor Buzzard.
    Disk of Rubeckia.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Blackish Brown

    Umber Brown, is chestnut brown, with a little blackish brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Chestnut Brown swatch
    103. Chestnut Brown*
    Neck and Breast of Red Grouse.
    Chestnuts.
    Egyptian Jasper.
    • Deep Reddish Brown
    • Yellowish Brown

    Chestnut Brown, the characteristic colour of the browns of Werner's series, W. is deep reddish brown and yellowish brown.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Yellowish Brown swatch
    104. Yellowish Brown
    Light Brown Spots on Guinea-Pig. Breast of a Hoopoe.
    Iron Flint, and common Jasper.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Lemon Yellow

    Yellowish Brown, is chestnut brown mixed with a considerable portion of lemon yellow. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Wood Brown swatch
    105. Wood Brown
    Common Weasel. Light parts of Feathers on the Back of the Snipe.
    Hazed Nuts.
    Mountain Wood.
    • Yellowish Brown
    • Ash Grey

    Wood Brown, is yellowish brown mixed with ash grey.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Liver Brown swatch
    106. Liver Brown
    Middle Parts of Feathers of Hen Pheasant, and Wing coverts of Gosbeak.
    Semi Opal.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Velvet Black
    • Olive Green

    Liver Brown, is chestnut brown mixed with a little black and olive green.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Hair Brown swatch
    107. Hair Brown
    Head of Pintail Duck
    Wood Tin.
    • Clove Brown
    • Ash Grey

    Hair Brown, is clove brown mixed with ash grey. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Broccoli Brown swatch
    108. Broccoli Brown
    Head of Black headed Gull.
    Zircon.
    • Clove Brown
    • Ash Grey
    • Arterial Blood Red

    Broccoli Brown, is clove brown mixed with ash grey, and a small tinge of red. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Clove Brown swatch
    109. Clove Brown
    Head and Neck of Male Kestril.
    Stems of Black Currant Bush.
    Axinite, Rok Cristal.
    • Ash Grey
    • Berlin Blue
    • Arterial Blood Red
    • Chestnut Brown

    Olive Brown, is ash grey mixed with a little blue, red, and chestnut brownW.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • Blackish Brown swatch
    110. Blackish Brown
    Stormy Petril. Wing Coverts of black Cock. Forehead of Foumart.
    Mineral Pitch.
    • Chestnut Brown
    • Velvet Black

    Blackish Brown, is composed of chestnut brown and black. W.

    The colors in these photos are approximate and are intended to serve as examples of where to find the colors described in nature. Contribute your photo »

  • *Characteristic color of the series (e.g. whites, greys, etc.)
  • †Pale Blackish Purple is labeled “Pale Blackish Purple” in the chart but “Pale Bluish Purple” in the original description.
  • ‡Celadine Green is labeled “Celadine Green” in the chart but “Celindine Green” in the original description.
  • §Clove Brown is labeled “Clove Brown” in the chart but “Olive Brown” in the original description.

Posters

Decorate your walls with posters designed based on Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. Starting at $27.80 for 36″ × 24″.


Full spectrum

The entire collection of colors developed by Werner and the colors that were combined to create each one. Includes scans each swatch painted by Syme.

Order poster »

Full spectrum poster

Full spectrum poster closeup

Full spectrum poster framed


Color blends

Illustration of which colors were blended into others that Syme painted based on the order listed in the guidebook.

Order poster »

Color blends poster

Color blends poster framed

Color blends poster closeup

Original guidebook

Before photography became commonplace, colorful details were often captured by the written word and Werner’s guidebook served as one of the best guides for classification. Charles Darwin even consulted it for reference during his voyages on the HMS Beagle while researching natural history.

In the late 18th century, German mineralogist Abraham Werner devised a standardized scheme for classifying colors which was later adapted and revised in the 19th century by Scottish painter Patrick Syme.

Syme enhanced Werner’s original guide by including painted swatches for each color based on Werner’s precise descriptions and examples of where to find the colors in the natural world.

The first edition was published in 1814 later in 1821 with minor revisions and some additional observations in the preface for how color classification systems are used in various areas of scientific study.

Below are some scans from the 1821 publication scan available on the Internet Archive.

The 1814 publication was also recently republished by Smithsonian Books.

Scan of original blue swatches

Scan of original yellow swatches

Classification of colors

Below is the complete text of the preface to the original second edition of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours and the list of colors that were changed from Werner’s original arrangement when Syme adapted it.


A nomenclature of colours, with proper coloured examples of the different tints, as a general standard to refer to in the description of any object, has been long wanted in arts and sciences. It is singular, that a thing so obviously useful, and in the description of objects of natural history and the arts, where colour is an object indispensably necessary, should have been so long overlooked. In describing any object, to specify its colours is always useful; but where colour forms a character, it becomes absolutely necessary. How defective, therefore, must description be when the terms used are ambiguous; and where there is no regular standard to refer to. Description without figure is generally difficult to be comprehended; description and figure are in many instances still defective; but description, figure, and colour combined form the most perfect representation, and are next to seeing the object itself. An object may be described of such a colour by one person, and perhaps mistaken by another for quite a different tint: as we know the names of colours are frequently misapplied; and often one name indiscriminately given to many colours. To remove the present confusion in the names of colours, and establish a standard that may be useful in general science, particularly those branches, viz. Zoology, Botany, Mineralogy, Chemistry, and Morbid Anatomy, is the object of the present attempt.

The author, from his experience and long practice in painting objects which required the most accurate eye to distinguish colours, hopes that he will not be thought altogether unqualified for such an undertaking. He does not pretend indeed that it is his own idea; for, so far as he knows, Werner is entitled to the honour of having suggested it. This great mineralogist, aware of the importance of colours, found it necessary to establish a Nomenclature of his own in his description of minerals, and it is astonishing how correct his eye has been; for the author of the present undertaking went over Werner’s suites of colours, being assisted by Professor Jameson, who was so good as arrange specimens of the suites of minerals mentioned by Werner, as examples of his Nomenclature of Colours. He copied the colours of these minerals, and found the component parts of each tint, as mentioned by Werner, uncommonly correct. Werner’s suites of colours extend to seventy-nine tints. Though these may answer for the description of most minerals, they would be found defective when applied to general science: the number therefore is extended to one hundred and ten, comprehending the most common colours or tints that appear in nature. These may be called standard colours; and if the terms pale, deep, dark, bright, and dull, be applied to any of the standard colours, suppose crimson, or the same colour tinged lightly with other colours, suppose grey, or black, or brown, and applied in this manner:

1st.

Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown, &c.

2d.

Pale Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown.

3d.

Deep Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown.

4th.

Dark Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown.

5th.

Bright Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown.

6th.

Dull Crimson
  • tinged with Grey.
  • tinged with Black.
  • tinged with Brown, &c.

If all the standard colours are applied in this manner, or reversed, as grey tinged with crimson, &c. the tints may be multiplied to upwards of thirty thousand, and yet vary very little from the standard colours with which they are combined. The suites of colours are accompanied with examples in, or references to, the Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Kingdoms, as far as the author has been able to fill them up, annexed to each tint, so as to render the whole as complete as possible. Werner, in his suites of colours, has left out the terms Purple and Orange, and given them under those of Blue and Yellow; but, with deference to Werner’s opinion, they certainly are as much entitled to the name of colours as green, grey, brown, or any other composition colour whatever, and in this work Orange and Purple are named, and arranged in distinct places. To accomplish which, it was necessary to change the places of two or three of Werner’s colours, and alter the names of a few more; but, to avoid any mistake, the letter W. is placed opposite to all Werner’s colours. Those colours in Werner’s suites, whose places or names are changed, are also explained, by placing Werner’s term opposite to the name given, which was found more appropriate to the component parts of the changed colours. Those who have paid any attention to colours, must be aware that it is very difficult to give colours for every object that appears in nature; the tints are so various, and the shades so gradual, they would extend to many thousands: it would be impossible to give such a number, in any work on colours, without great expence; but those who study the colours given, will, by following Werner’s plan, improve their general knowledge of colours; and the eye, by practice, will become so correct, that by examining the component parts of the colour of any object, though differing in shade or tint from any of the colours given in this series, they will see that it partakes of, or passes into, some one of them. It is of great importance to be able to judge of the intermediate shades or tints between colours, and find out their component parts, as it enables us correctly to describe the colour of any object whatever.

Werner’s plan for describing the tints, or shades between colours, is as follows: “When one colour approaches slightly to another, it is said to incline towards it; when it stands in the middle between two colours, it is said to be intermediate; when, on the contrary, it evidently approaches very near to one of the colours, it is said to fall, or pass, into it.” In this work the metallic colours are left out, because, were they given, they would soon tarnish; and they are in some measure unnecessary, as every person is well acquainted with the colour of gold, silver, brass, copper, &c. Also the play and changeability of colour is left out, as it is impossible to represent them; however, they are well known to be combinations of colours, varying as the object is changed in position, as in the pigeon’s neck, peacock’s tail, opal, pearl, and other objects of a similar appearance. To gain a thorough knowledge of colours, it is of the utmost consequence to be able to distinguish their component parts. Werner has described the combinations in his suites of colours, which are very correct; these are given, and the same plan followed, in describing those colours which are added in this series. The method of distinguishing colours, their shades, or varieties, is thus described by Werner: “Suppose we have a variety of colour, which we wish to refer to its characteristic colour, and also to the variety under which it should be arranged, we first compare it with the principal colours, to discover to which of them it belongs, which, in this instance, we find to be green. The next step is to discover to which of the varieties of green in the systern it can be referred. If, on comparing it with emerald green, it appears to the eye to be mixed with another colour, we must, on comparison, endeavour to discover what this colour is: if it prove to be greyish white, we immediately refer it to apple green; if, in place of greyish white, it is intermixed with lemon yellow, we must consider it grass green; but if it contains neither greyish white nor lemon yellow, but a considerable portion of black, it forms blackish green. Thus, by mere ocular inspection, any person accustomed to discriminate colours correctly, can ascertain and analyse the different varieties that occur in the Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Kingdoms. In an undertaking of this kind, the greatest accuracy being absolutely necessary, neither time nor pains have been spared to render it as perfect as possible; and it being also of the first importance, that the colours should neither change nor fade, from long practice and many experiments, the author has ascertained that his method of mixing and laying on colours will ensure their remaining constant, unless they are long exposed to the sun, which affects, in some degree, all material colours; he has therefore arranged Werner’s suites of colours, with his own additions, into a book, and in that form presents it to men of science, trusting, that by removing the present ambiguity in the names of colours, this Nomenclature will be found a most useful acquisition to the arts and sciences.

Since the former edition of this Work was published, Professor Jameson, in his “Treatise on the External Characters of Minerals,” makes the following observations.

“Many attempts have been made to delineate the different colours that occur in the Mineral Kingdom, with the view of enabling those who do not possess a mineralogical collection, or who may not be familiar with colours, to know the different varieties mentioned in the descriptions of mineralogists. Wiedemann, Estner, Ludwig, and several others, have published tables of this kind; but all of them were deficient, not only in accuracy, but also in durability. Having the good fortune to possess a Colour-Suite of Minerals, made under the eye of Werner, by my late friend H. Meuder of Freyberg, and being desirous of making this collection as generally useful as possible, I mentioned my wish to Mr Syme, painter to the Wernerian and Horticultural Societies, who readily undertook to make a delineation of all the varieties in the collection. This he executed with his usual skill and accuracy; adding, at the same time, to the series several other colours, which he has distinguished by appropriate names, and arranged along with those in the Wernerian System. The whole have been published in a series of tables, in a treatise which ought to be in the hands of every mineralogist, and indeed in the possession of naturalists of every description.

“The older and some of the modern mineralogists, in their descriptions of the species of minerals, use only single varieties of colour. It was Werner who first made the remark, that single varieties are not characteristic, and that it is only by using the whole range or suite of the mineral, that we are enabled to employ this character with advantage. Thus, it is not sufficient to say that epidote is green, that beryl is green, or that topaz is yellow; we must mention every variety of colour which these minerals possess, because each species of mineral is expressed by a particular suite or group of colours.

“Although colours are frequently applied by botanists for distinguishing species of plants, particularly in the class cryptogamia, still they in general hesitate in employing them in the discrimination of plants in the higher divisions of the system. It is alleged that the colours of plants change very readily, particularly when cultivated in our gardens, and that, therefore, so variable a character should not be attended to. It is not denied, that the colours of plants frequently undergo very considerable changes when cultivated in our gardens; but these domesticated plants are no longer the natural unaltered species, and therefore are not objects of the attention of the systematic botanist. It is also known, that plants, even in their natural situations, owing to disease, experience great changes in their colours; but these diseased individuals would surely never be taken by the botanist for characteristic examples of the species. Indeed it is highly probable, that every species of plant, in its natural region, has a determined colour, or suite of colours. Hence colours may be used as a most interesting character, particularly in those systems of botany which are termed Natural.

“This character may also be advantageously used in giving correct ideas of the changes of colour which plants experience by cultivation, or when removed from their natural soil and climate. Interesting coloured maps might be constructed, to shew the general changes in the colour of the vegetable world from the equator towards the poles; and the difference of colours in vegetables in the two hemispheres, and in the Old and New World.

“In the Animal Kingdom, the number of colours is very great. They often form the most striking feature in the external appearance of the species; and hence have been considered by systematics as affording discriminating characters of much value. The agriculturist, engaged in the breeding of animals, often witnesses striking changes in their colours, and these varieties of colour, either alone, or conjoined with other characters, characterize his different breeds. But here, as in botany, a regular systematic Nomenclature of Colour is much wanted.

“The anatomist will find it much to his advantage, to use in his descriptions some regular and fixed standard of colours; and in Morbid Anatomy, in particular, the importance of such an aid will be immediately perceived: Thus, the various changes in the animal system, from the slightest degree of inflammation to complete gangrene, are strikingly marked by the different colours the parts assume. Accurate enumerations of these colours as they occur in single varieties, or in groups, conjoined with descriptions of the changes in form, transparency, lustre, consistency, hardness, structure, and weight, observable in the diseased parts, will convey an accurate conception of the diseased parts to those who have not an opportunity of seeing it. But to effect this, the anatomist and surgeon must agree on some fixed nomenclature, not only of colour, but also of form, transparency, lustre, consistency, hardness, and structure; and a better model cannot be pointed out than that contrived by Werner, for the description and discrimination of minerals.

“Lastly, the chemist will have daily opportunities of experiencing its utility; and the meteorologist, and the hydrographer, by the use of an accurate and standard table of colours, will be enabled, in a much more satisfactory manner than heretofore, to describe the sides and meteors of different countries, and the numerous varieties of colour that occur in the waters of the ocean, of lakes and rivers.”


List of colours

Changed from Werner’s arrangement.

Werner’s Names Changed to
Milk White. Skimmed Milk White.
Blackish Lead Grey, but without lustre. Blackish Grey.
Steel Grey, but without lustre. French Grey.
Smalt Blue. Greyish Blue.
Sky Blue. Greenish Blue.
Violet Blue. Violet Purple.
Plum Blue. Plum Purple.
Lavender Blue. Lavender Purple.
Orange Yellow. Dutch Orange.
Crimson Red. Lake Red.
Columbine Red. Purplish Red.
Cherry Red. Brownish Purple Red.

About this project

This is a project from me, Nicholas Rougeux. I created this project to enhance Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by adding information that I wanted when I read the guidebook like easily jumping to any color, seeing the colors referenced in the description, and seeing photos of what Werner referenced for his descriptions of each color.

I recognize the system Werner devised isn’t as useful as it used to be when it was devised so many years ago but I enjoy breathing new life into classic works of art so I chose to recreate it online.

The result is something that’s hopefully interesting for those just discovering Werner’s guide and those that may already be familiar with it and want to discover it in a new light.

See my portfolio for more projects.

Download the data


Source material

Werner’s nomenclature of colours : with additions, arranged so as to render it highly useful to the arts and sciences, particularly zoology, botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and morbid anatomy : annexed to which are examples selected from well-known objects in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms by Patrick Syme, 1821, available from the Internet Archive. Original book not in copyright.


Share