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Full text of "The language of color, by M. Luckiesh.."

HAHOtD B. LEG LIBRARY 
satOHAM rouNO uNivEAsi nr 

PROVO, UTAH 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
in 2011 witii funding from 
Brigliam Young University 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/languageofcolorbOOIuck 



>■ 



THE 
LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

fvC 



( 1 R ,, 
M. LUCKIESH 



Physicist, Nela Research Laboratory National Lamp 

Works of General Electric Company ) 

Author of "Color and Its Applications," "Light and Shade 
and Their Applications," "The Lighting Art" 




//■ 



NEW YORK 
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 

1920 



Copyright, 1»18 
Bv DODD. MEAD AND COMPANY. Ikc. 



^' THE LiERARY ■^': 

BRIGIIAr*! YOUNG UNIVERSITY 

PROVO, UTAH 



\ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



Color and Its Applications (1915). 
360 Pages, 129 Illustrations, 21 Tables, and 4 
Color Plates. 

Light and Shade and Their Applications ( 1916 ) . 
277 Pages, 135 Illustrations, 10 Tables. 

The Lighting Art (1917). 

229 Pages, 43 Illustrations, 9 Tables. 



The Language of Color (1918) 



TO 
MY WIFE 



PREFACE 

There is evidence on all sides of a lack of 
correlation of the sciences and the arts which 
doubtless is due to the difficulty an individual 
encounters in adapting himself to these two 
viewpoints. (Eor the benefit of his art, the art- 
ist should acquaint himself with the general 
sciences upon which his art is foundedjjand for 
the benefit of progress the scientist should bear 
in mind the viewpoint of the artist. There 
should be no misapprehension regarding the 
relation of science and artVbecause the former 
supplies the enduring foundation for the latterTj 
For this reason it appears that those who pri- 
marily possess a scientific viewpoint should at- 
tempt to bridge the gap by laying their course 
upon facts. It is with this attitude that I have 
attempted to present a brief review of the lan- 
guage of color in which its present status, and 
the foundation upon which its future must be 

jtablished, are discussed. 

No subject has been more abused than Color ) 
those possessing only a superficial knowl- " 



Vll 



/ 



viii PEEFACE 

edge of the underlying scientific principles; 
therefore, there is a need for presentations of 
the facts of various aspects of color. | The sub- 
ject of this book is very extensive in scope for 
it includes not only various sciences but also 
many arts. Brevity of treatment was essential 
in order to present a concise review of the sub- 
ject and it has appeared the better plan at this 
time to present merely a review as suggestively 
as possible. The goal which I have kept in 
mind is the possibility of an ultimate art purely 
of color or at least of an extension of the pres- 
ent use of the expressiveness of color. Such 
an aim can only be realized by interpreting our 
present language of color, by extending this 
knowledge by further study and experiments, 
and by making the understanding of the ex- 
pressiveness of color a general accomplishment 
of mankind. 

It will be noted that in dealing with those as- 
pects of color which are only vaguely under- 
stood the discussion does not depart far from 
the known scientific facts which appear to be 
associated with the future development of these 
aspects. On the whole, this brief treatise aims 
to correlate the science and art of the expres- 
siveness of color in a fundamental manner. It 
is hoped that this rudimentary *^ dictionary'' of 



PEEFACE is 

the language of color is a forerunner of a more 
extensive discussion which may appear in later 
years if the developments are sufficient to war- 
rant it. Regardless of the future, it appears 
that the effort has been well spent if it has 
yielded no more than a correlation of some of 
the data of the sciences and arts of color. My 
viewpoint is more comprehensively discussed in 
the first chapter which is in reality a preface to 
be read and in the last chapter which points 
toward the future. 

I take pleasure in recording my appreciation 
of the opportunities afforded by the manage- 
ment of the National Lamp Works of General 
Electric Company for prosecuting various stud- 
ies and of the courtesies extended by Dr. E. P. 
Hyde, director of the Nela Research Labora- 
tory. 

M. LUCKIESH 

Oct. 31, 1916 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Introduction 3 

Mythology 13 V^ 

Association 19 

Nature 29 

Primitive Language 41 

Literature 55 

Painting 68 

Ecclesiastioism 79*^ 

Theatre 89 



PART II 

Symbolism op Color 95 ^ 

Red lOOi^^ 

Yellow 109 

Green 115 

Blue 119 

White 123 

Black 127 

Gray 133 

Various Colors 136^ 

xi 



xii CONTENTS 

PART III 

CHAPTER ^^A^ 

Nomenclature J-'*^ 

Psycho-physiology of Color 156^ 

Color Preference 176 "^ 

Affective Value of Colors 193 

Attention Value of Colors 209 

PART IV 

Esthetics ^^^ 

Harmony 235 

Color Practice 252 

Color-Music ^^^ 

Finale ^^'^ 

Bibliography 282 



1 



PABT I 



1* V 



ih 



V;/l. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



INTRODUCTION 



PROLONGED intimacy with color, either in 
its science or art, doubtless has always 
aroused and stimulated thought and specula- 
tion regarding its effects upon the human or- 
ganism. In fact, it is one of the aims of the 
artist t^jdiscoyer the ggwerj^ of colors and to 
^^^IpJ— y^gi ^ sugges tiveness in his appeals to 
emotional man. In this rSpel5t~our final inter- 
est in the use of color, as in many other activi- 
ties, is largely concerned with the psychological 
effects, Jn other words, the ultimate object of 
the various arts lies largely in their influences 
upon human consciousness. It would be an in- 
teresting study to explore the maze of devious 
highways traversed by that evoluting some- 
thing which is an emotion in the making but 
this is a field for the psychologist. Investiga- 
tors in psychology are invading this vast un- 
known and from this angle it is hoped that our 
knowledge of the emotional effects of color will 
some day be greatly extended. 
It is the object in this brief work to explore 

3 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



I 



various fields in which color is used, to attempt 
to sift out the part played by color in arousing 
emotions and in portraying ideas, and to pre- 
sent discussions and suggestions regarding the 
possibility of a future art purely or predomi- 
nantly of color. The wonderful gift of color- 
vision has made it possible to touch the emo- 
tional side of the human organism through color 
in Nature and through the use of color in such 
arts as painting, architecture, literature, danc- 
ing, and the drama. Exhaustive research in 
these various fields is not entertained at present 
but it is the hope that the following brief dis- 
cussions, combined with a study of color in na- 
ture and with the meager data supplied by the 
physiologist and psychologist, will illuminate 
the pathway toward a rudimentary dictionary 
of the language of color. 

It would be unscientific to deny the existence 
of a language of color because we do not un- 
derstand it thoroughly at present and quite un- 
progressive to reject the possibility of finally 
completing the dictionary of this language. 
Color experiences are indeed very intricate at 
present but it is likely that this is due to out 
scanty knowledge of the elements and processes 
involved in the emotional appeal of colors, and 
to our inability to interpret and to correlate 






THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 5 

properly the various factors. Much knowledge 
must be unearthed before a rudimentary dic- 
tionary of this language is available but first 
the scientific attitude should admit the possi- 
bility that the language of the group of experi- 
ences associated with color eventually will be 
understood. Directly and indirectly we have 
occasional glimmerings of understanding but 
the data which must build the foundation of 
this dictionary are meager indeed. It must be 
sought in many indirectly related activities of 
man, the emotional aspects of which are at best 
only faintly understood. When it is considered 
that most of the knowledge of the expressiveness 
of color must be sought in these various activi- 
ties whose allegorical, representative or emo- 
tional powers are more or less obscure, it v/ould 
be presumptuous to expect to emerge from the 
final chapter of this book with an unabridged 
dictionary of the language of color. Therefore, 
no greater result is expected than a correlation 
of the various viewpoints and sources of infor- 
mation which may serve as a preliminary 
analysis of present knowledge of the subject. 
At least it is hoped that fruitful trends of 
thought and investigation and various exten- 
sions of the application of color will be made 
apparent. 



6 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 






In the arts, color has not yet played a solo 
part. It has been merely an element in the en- 
semble, but even in this minor role its influence 
appears to be positive though difficult to analyze. 
Instead of being merely an element in an en- 
semble, is it not possible, when its language is 
understood, that there will have evolved an art 
purely, or at least predominantly, of color, 
which, in order to be interpretable, will require 
little or no assistance from line, form, subject, 
words, rhythmic sounds or movements? The 
chief object here is to record results of excur- 
sions into the various fields, including arts and 
sciences, and to discuss briefly the meager, avail- 
able data which contribute toward a language 
of color. However occasionally, by drawing 
upon intimacies gained through direct interest 
and contact with the artistic and scientific as- 
pects of color, the author will venture sugges- ' 
tions and possibly a few predictions, with the 
object of hastening, doubtless ever so slightly,]! pi 
the possible advent of such an art or at least the '^ 
extension of the use of color. Experiments, ob- 
servation and study must be relied upon to sup- 
ply the foundation and to enlarge the dictionary 
of the language of color so that, eventually, a 
language, crude though it may be in the begin-' 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 7 

ning, may form a broader foundation for a work- 
ing knowledge of the emotional possibilities of 
color. If it appears to some that the subject 
treated here is outside the realm of the scientist 
in the field of color, the defense offered is that 
this book is not dealing with a recognized exist- 
ing reality but with a possible futurity. .' Fur- 
thermore, the foundation of all arts is science, 
and definite progress will best result from a 
scientific analysis of the available knowledge 
and from two perspective views, one backward 
and the other forward. 

Color in a broad sense includes light and 
shade and is synonymous to light. In all in- 
terpretations, difficulties arise from the unfortu- 
nate indefiniteness, and consequent looseness, of 
the nomenclature of color. Ofttimes through- 
out this study and discussion it has been neces- 
sary to interpret a vague description or use of 
color, and it is recognized that these instances 
provide opportunities for different opinions. 
Furthermore, all the data recorded in the fol- 
lowing chapters are not considered conclusive, 
and the author does not necessarily commit him- 
self to a complete accord with many of these 
symbolical uses of color by the act of incorpo- 
rating descriptions of them. The material has 



8 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

been carefully selected and recorded because of 
its possible value and has been condensed for the 
sake of interest and clarity. 

Not the least incentive in presenting this brief 
work has been the desire to illustrate the differ- 
ence in the value of material of this character, 
which has at least some semblance of a sound 
foundation of fact, and that which springs from 
pure imagination. It is not unusual to hear the 
scientist — the searcher after facts, the analyst 
who not only aims to discover truths but to 
learn their relations to each other — accused of 
a lack of imagination. It is quite consistent 
that the accusers are usually possessed of ab- 
normal imaginations which dominate or smother 
that which furnishes the ties to this world of ac- 
cepted facts. They have little respect for ac- 
cepted facts but a relatively much greater re- 1"^ 
gard for the products of their imaginations. 
Ofttimes they are neither adequately versed in 
science nor sufficiently analytical to discern the 
difference between that which is fact in the ordi- 
nary sense and that which they think is fact. 
This is simply illustrated in the foregoing ac-, 
cusation because it has been imagination that ^■ 
has led the scientist to discoveries. The differ- ' % 
ence between the scientist and the ultra-imagi- 1 
native is that the former does not permit his i 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 9 

imagination to carry him away from the base of 
facts without maintaining lines of communica- 
tion, while the latter soars serenely into the un- 
known, feeling secure in a world that exists only 
in his imagination. Nothing can harm him be- 
cause he is invulnerable to facts and his imagi- 
nation can create protective expedients at will. 
To be safe, the possibility may be admitted that 
I perhaps each individual 's world only exists 
iin his imagination, however, for the everyday 
'business of life there is a striking similarity 
among most of the individual *' worlds'' regard- 
I ing that which we call fact. 

It is true that much of the progress of civiliza- 
tion has been due primarily to radicals, but the 
blind imaginings of radicalism aid in progress 
only by stimulating controversial activity or by 
mere accident. Moderate imagination which 
does not carry the individual too far from the 
base of accepted facts is helpful to progress, but 
an excessive amount hinders progress by the 
wasting of energy in controversy. It is not the 
intention to disparage the value of sane imagi- 
nation which does not blind the individual to the 
value and necessity of discovering and organiz- 
ing facts. However, it is likely that no subject 
has been abused more than Color because its 
effects are so vaguely understood that the ma- 



10 I THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

jority of persons are inclined to hearken to the 
sayings of the ultra-imaginative with more or 
less credulity. Examples of the harmful effects 
' will be glimpsed occasionally in the following 
chaj)ters. 

(It is the object in this brief work to record 
some of the impressions c olors have made upon 
t he human organ ism.) In doing so, as already 
stated, the author does not necessarily commit 
himself favorably or unfavorably, for the very 
good reason that he appreciates the limitations 
of the impressions of colors upon a single mind. 
\^ Jbnpressions are closely dependent upon j tsso- 
^ ciations and the latter ^re individualistic to a 
certain degree, owing to their intimate depend- 
ence u£^on^the_pa^tjexperiences of the individual, 
so that single minds can hardly be expected to 
be impressed entirely alike. 'J^However, colors 
apparently have some definite attributes almost 
universally recognized, and it is reasonable to 
expect that a possibility exists for a more or 
less definite language of color to evolve from 
this common beginning through continued culti- 
vation. ' The ultimate language of color will be 
that which arises from the common consent of a 
great percentage of intellects developed under 
similar adaptations, but science must organize 
this art before much progress can be made, just 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 11 

as it did in the case of music. Music as a sci- 
ence is in advance of the fine arts, its most es- 
sential principles being expressed mathematic- 
ally; however, no scientist entertains the belief 
that he can rival Mozart in the composition of 
music by virtue of his mathematical skill alone. 
Such is also the viewpoint of the scientist re- 
garding an art purely of color, and by the fore- 
going precedent and others he is 'freed from 
criticism if he entertains the idea that it is his 
work to organize the art. 

It is with this attitude that this present chaos 
of color expression is invaded. Besides re- 
cording impressions and symbolical uses of 
color gleaned from many diversified sources, 
some discussions of various aspects of the sub- 
ject will be indulged in. In the latter there are 
opportunities for other opinions and conclu- 
sions, but in dealing with a subject of which 
only fragmentary and, at best, only rudimen- 
tary facts are positively known and of whose 
future we can do little more than to conjecture, 
a feeling of security is entertained inasmuch as 
accepted facts have formed the foundations. 
There appears to be a sufficient number of facts 
available to warrant the belief that a discussion 
of the possibilities of a language of color will be 
of value at the present time. Furthermore, it 



12 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

appears from the apparently consistent uses of 
color in the past and from the trends at pres- 
ent that this brief record and discussion will 
aid in laying a foundation for an ultimate art 
purely or predominantly of color, if future de- 
velopments prove that the human organism can 
adapt itself to an understanding of such an art. 
l; This possible art will appeal to us through the 
language of color and its development will re- 
quire experiments directed by sane imagination 
which is resigned to a work extending for years 
and perhaps for generations. 



MYTHOLOGY 

"I feed the clouds, the rainbows, and the flowers 
With their ethereal colors." 

— Shelley: "Hymn of Apollo." 

IN order to begin with a comprehensive view 
of the subject, the more important sources 
of information will be briefly reviewed. Chron- 
ologically, one of the first sources is found be- 
yond the outskirts of recorded writing, in the 
more or less vague imaginings of mythology. 

jThis subject provides an interesting inFroduc- 
tion into the study of the language of color and 
also glimpses of the impressions that light and 

' color have made upon the intellects of the early 
peoples. Furthermore, the crystallization of 
these impressions into the permanent and rec- 
ognized usage of the present time can be readily 
witnessed and understood. Colors have played 
a conspicuous part in mythology. Doubtless 
the attributes which they are supposed to pos- 
sess were very real to many but even though it 
were originally realized that the colors were 
used symbolically through mere fancy, they 
have acquired, by continued association and 
common consent, some degree of signification 
similar to words. 

13 



14 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

It is impossible to separate the treatments of 
color in mythology and in symbolism because 
the use of colors in mythology is largely sym- 
bolical. Much of the color has been inserted by 
artists and writers centuries after the myths 
had evolved to a more or less stable state. At 
this point it appears desirable to discriminate 
between fable and mythology. The former is 
a story in which characters take part in a plot 
and no pretense to reality is entertained. It is 
a narrative in which beings, sometimes irra- 
tional or inanimate, are feigned to perform as 
human beings. Myths are stories of anony- 
mous origin prevalent chiefly among primitive 
peoples and accepted by them with credulity. 
Natural phenomena and various events are ac- 
counted for by attributing them to the super- 
natural. According to Jonson, 

"Fables are vessels made to order into which a lesson 
may be poured. Myths are born, not made. They owe 
their features to the imaginative efforts of a generation of 
story-tellers." 

When the origin, purpose, and life of myths 
are considered, a view is obtained of the im- 
portance of a symbolic use of color which has 
survived during the long and devious process 
passed through by a myth during its evolution. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 15 

The power of association of color with a certain 
event for years is exemplified in many cases at 
the present time and, therefore, the symbolical 
use of color in mythology should not be rejected. 
Many of these symbolical uses of color in my- 
thology, art, and language have become deeply 
rooted and have their places in the language of 
color as firmly established as words in a dic- 
tionary of spoken language. 

Many of the commonplace facts and fables 
preserved from generation to generation, 
though perhaps altered by fancy from time to 
time, form a considerable portion of the mate- 
rial of literature and of the representative arts. 
Sculpture was the finest art of the ancient 
Greeks and, perhaps for this reason, color is 
not as conspicuous in their mythological repre- 
sentations as it doubtless would have been if 
the art of painting had reached a higher state 
of development during that early period. A 
complete inquiry into these symbolical uses of 
color would require exhaustive research because 
.of the haziness of interpretations and of the 
extensiveness of the field which includes all of 
the pure and applied arts in which color is em- 
ployed. The indefiniteness of color terminol- 
ogy and notation causes difficulties in attempt- 
ing to interpret data rescued from obscurity. 



16 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Endless complications arise owing to the vary- 
ing interpretations of the countless personali- 
ties involved. To do this subject justice would 
require years of research in the arts, traditions, 
and mythology of many peoples of all ages. 
Frankly, this has not been attempted, and it is 
doubtful if the fruits of such an effort would be 
sufficiently valuable in contributing toward a 
language of color to justify the expenditure of 
such an effort at present. However, sufficient 
data of this character have been obtained from 
which to forge a link in the chain of evidence 
and some of this material is presented in vari- 
ous chapters especially in those dealing with 
the symbolism of colors. 

We would gain more valuable data from the 
early writings, which were largely a record of 
myths, if color-names had been more definitely 
developed in those early periods. In fact, the 
scarcity of color-names especially those for blue 
and green, makes it necessary to interpret vari- 
ous meanings which in many cases can be no 
more certain than mere speculation. Some of 
the early Greek myths which form the basis of 
excellent literature, such as the Hiad and Odys- 
sey, are quite lacking in definite color-names 
especially for some colors. The Vedas contain 
many descriptions of the sky in all of its vari- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 17 

ety of moods, but Geiger says, *^the fact that 
the sky is blue could never have been gathered 
from these poems by any one who did not al- 
ready know it himself.'* The sky or heaven 
also plays a prominent part in the Bible, occur- 
ring in the first verse and in no less than four 
hundred other passages, yet the blue color is 
not mentioned. Geiger also states that ^^tlie 
ten books of Rigveda hymns, though they fre- 
quently mention the earth, no more bestow upon 
it the epithet ^ green' than on the heaven that 
of ^blue.' " In many early writings no name 
for yellow appears. 

Notwithstanding this paucity of color-names 
there can be no doubt that the colors of such 
abiding places of gods, mysteries, etc., as the 
sky, the earth, and the sea, impressed those 
beings of early history. In many cases it is a 
simple task to supply the color-name and to in- 
terpret the part that color played in the super- 
stitions and myths of these beings? f Many of 
the characteristics which are bestowed upon 
colors at the present time owe their origin to 
the imaginings of early peoples who lived at 
a period when knowledge was too scanty to cur- 
tail, to any appreciable extent, the fancies of 
Ithese children.V 
f Much color has been introduced into mythol- 



18 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

ogy and mythological representations by eccle-J 
siasts, artists, and story-tellers of more recent 
periods and these also add their influence in 
molding the language of color. Here and there 
throughout this book the influence of mythology 
will be discerned. 



ASSOCIATION 

ISOLATED mental processes which become 
related to each other, but not blended suffi- 
ciently to lose their identity, are said to be as- 
sociated and these relations are termed ** asso- 
ciations." An attempt to explain the mental 
mechanism of association doubtless would prove 
futile even after having devoted considerable 
space to the discussion because psychologists 
are not universally in accord with any hypoth- 
esis or theory.* Association has been a power- 
ful factor in the development of our rudimen- 
tary language of color for in many cases the 
continued associations of colors with certain 
events, things, sensations, ideas, or emotions 
have resulted in accepted significations of those 
colors and the associations no longer are ap- 
parent or necessary. In fact, /all of our ex- 
periences are the results of an intermingling of 
a vast complex of associations. The entire his- 
tory of a human being consists of endless chains 
oTa^SEociations traceable far back into the early 
periods of infancy.! Where associations begin 
to molcl the development of the human organ- 
ism and to influence the mind, it is difficult to 

19 



20 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



X 



state. Doubtless they begin with the begin- 
ning of what we term experience. 

Associations are of many degrees of intimacy 
varying from those in which the components are 
almost completely blended to those of lesser in- 
timacy in which experiences are merely linked. 
They are of far-reaching influence in the mental 
life of mankind and perhaps it is safe to state 
that, as far as result is concerned, the associ- ^^ 
ations are chiefly of the former or very intimate ""' 
type because relatively few persons are, under ^ 
ordinary circumstances, sufficiently analytical' ^' 
to diagnose them. For the present purpose,' ^ 
and even for the ultimate application of a lan-j ^^ 
guage of color, this latter point is of interest F 
because, fortunately, any language, whether it ; 
be literature, music, painting, or sculpture, ii '^^ 
largely successful because of the fusing of th^ ^^^ 
individual elements to a considerable degree ^ 
One loses much of the joy of the normal appea ^ 
of these arts if he be continually awaiting witli ^^ 
critical or analytical attitude. I ^^ 

*^'It is of interest to note here that psycholo^ *'• 
gists tell us that the probability of the occur ^ 
rence of a certain mental state or act due to {^ ?i 
certain situation is dependent upon the *^fre' ^<^ 
quency, recency, intensity, and resulting satis! ^ 
faction of its connection ^\ath that situation oj 



f THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 21 

some part of it and with the whole frame of 
nind in which the situation is felt/' r^issoci- 
ition of colors with certain things, events!^ ideas, 
sentiments, and emotions, that is, with certain 
experiences, has formed a rudimentary founda- 
ion of a language of colorTl It may doubtless 
contribute much toward the completion of the 
structure. In fact, the very nature of learning, 
,)r the cultivation of the intellect, is largely, if 
liot wholly, a matter of association. It is true 
hat many of the rudiments of a language of 
tolor are likely to come originally from various 
ources but prolonged association, that is, con- 
inued practise, must be the means of standard- 
gng this possible art. 

The power of continued association of colors 
Sth certain things or experiences can be illus- 
rated in a great many instances. A few sim- 
le cases will be mentioned in order to em- 
hasize this aspect in respect to the expressive- 
ess of color so that this influence will be borne 
1 mind in any uses of color in this manner. In 
act, few uses of color are free from this influ- 
ence and many wrong conclusions are arrived at 
y not recognizing its importanceN For in- 
'ance, in the field of lighting — of interest to 
very civilized being — artificial light is tradi- 

onally of a yellowish or *^warm" color. The 



22 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

habit arising from this association, throughout 
many generations, of a yellow-orange tint with 
the light from such sources as the camp-fire, the 
grease lamp, the tallow candle, the kerosene 
flame, and the electric incandescent lamp is sc 
deeply rooted that discussions of lighting an 
sometimes faulty owing to a lack of realizatior 
of this influence. The habit is so firmly estab 
lished that usually it is not recognized as habit 
For example, it is not uncommon for persons t( 
attribute various physiological effects due tc 
the ** white'' light from a tungsten lamp (whicl 
really is not even a near approach to white 
whereas these persons and millions of other 
and their ancestors since the beginning of mai 
have lived uncomplainingly under natural day 
light for a much greater percentage of thei 
conscious hours. Inasmuch as the tungste: 
light is very yellowish in color as compared wit. 
daylight it is almost needless to state that th 
logic is defective when ph^^siological disturl JJ 
ances are attributed to the ** whiteness" of th 
artificial light if these same disturbances ar 
not experienced in natural daylight. 
' Turning to a few simple associations of colo 
Fone of the mosLcommon is the signification ( 
,ired for dangerj Of course, environment d^ 
termines the interpretation of the significance |' 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 23 

of a color as it does of other experience^but it 
is unnecessary to discuss this matter here7| Jhe 
fact remains that red in its proper environment 
is unmistakably a signal for danger and that 
the color is the^ important element in effecting 
the deduction. / Red is also readily associated 
with blood an(r its expressiveness partakes of 
the effects of such associaticml 
■ |Yellow or orange is often significant of light 
land warmth due to the association of this color 
iwith the sun or with sunlight. Again, analysis 
proves that sunlight is far from this color ex- 
)3ept when altered at sunrise^r sunset by the 
jabsorption of smoke, dust, etcj in the excessive 
;hickness of atmosphere through which the light 
must penetrate when the sun is at low altitudes. 
By contrast with blue skylight the light from 
!he sun appears of a yellowish color and doubt- 
ess this effect of contrast has played a great 
Dart in attributing a yellow tint to sunlight. 7 
Direct sunlight during a great portion of the" 
lay apparently has a just claim to being white 
n color although there is no general agreement 
is to a standard white. Physicists, at least, do 
iot generally consider noon sunlight on a clear 
lay of a yellow tint and some physiologists and 
)sychologists consider it to be bluish in color 
IS compared with a true ** physiological " white. 



24 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

However, the sun does appear yellowish by con- 
trast with the blue background of clear sky and 
this is the fact that is of importance here. 
Likewise a sunlit cloud appears yellow by con- 
trast with the adjacent patch of clear blue sky 
and a sunlit surface usually appears as though 
it were illuminated by a yellowish light because 
of the contrast with the cold bluish color of 
shadows which receive chiefly the bluish light 
from the sky. These are excellent illustrations 
of the difference between that which is and that 
w^ich appears to be. 

mreen is the most conspicuous garb of nature, 
and thus represents life.N^ Perhaps because of 
its freshness or newness in springtime, it is 
associated very much with this season and, f rona 
analogy, there have arisen many metaphorical 
uses of green symbolizing youth, immaturity 
and the early stage of any career. Adaptatior 
of the eye predominantly to this color may be 
responsible for the neutrality of green. -^It is 
neither warm nor cold, but restful, and its sym 



' bolic uses sometmaes reflect the influences Oj 
sucjh associationsTl 
"^^r^ ifihe earliest associations of blue were doubt 
less with the sky or heavens and it logically as 
sumes a divine significance) A clear blue sk; 
of summer is the acme of Serenity and we arJper 



tril 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOE 25 

not surprised to find this color endowed with a 
corresponding attribute, i There are periods, 
especially toward nightfall^ when the color of 
the sky approaches a darker shade of blue. 
The quietude of approaching night aids by asso- 
ciation in bestowing upon this color the attri- 
bute of sedateness. Poets often employ the 
phrase, *Hhe serene sky," and Southey uses 
the word as a noun in the following association : 

*'The serene of heaven." 

Again, the association of blue with the color of 
the eye, which in turn is associated for various 
reasons with the intellect, has resulted, perhaps 
with the aid of the divine attribute, in the sig- 
nification of this color for intelligence. 
(Purple, of a hue resulting from mixtures of 
approximately equal parts of red and blue 
lights, has long been the color of state;, "Why it 
has dyed the robes of royalty perhaps can not 
be determined with certainty. Wk^know that it 
was one of thdTmost costly cororsTin early his- 
tory and this may account for its use as ^'Tegal 
color denoting superiority On the otherKand, 
purple is fairly neutral — ^t^een warm and cold 
— and appears to many to possess a^natural at- 
tribute of dignity.* This latter conclusion may 
perhaps be due fS a secondary association, that 



26 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

is, its attribute of dignity may easily arise by 
unconsciously associating this color with roy- 
alty. Thus it is seen that the complexity of the 
associational mental processes is often very 
great. The exact reason for the regal or stately 
attribute which this color is thought to possess 
is of secondary interest as compared with the 
fact that purple is readily associated with royal 
garments and draperies. Like other colors it 
has various significations depending upon other 
associations. 

[white is the logical color for symbolizing 
purity, innocence, chastity, etc., because of its 
unsullied appearance.! It is unadulterated, un- 
touched, and uncontaminatedTj A ready associ- 
ation of this color with the foregoing and allied 
attribuies is provided by the white mantle of 
winter.l Is there any person who has gazed 
upon Nature ^s white mantle of freshly fallen 
siiow without commenting upon its purity? 
And have not all of us experienced feelings of 
guilt or of resentment when this beautiful white 
cloak is wantonly soiled or disturbed? We as- 
sociate liveliness with white but not exactly 
gayety, and hence other attributes are bestowed 
upon this color which partake of this associ- 
ation. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 27 

I Black is the antithesis of white and its asso- 
cS^ion with gloom and darkness renders it a 
fitting symbol for woe and fear. It provides an 
environment for evil deeds, and hence is em- 
blematic of crime.) The primal instinct asso- 
ciates darkness with hidden dangers for it con- 
cealed the enemy, whether man or wild beast, 
and these appropriate attributes have clung to 
black or darkness throughout the entire evolu- 
tiojti of the raceTV 

feray is the color of age because the hair 
(5fihe aged is ** hoary gray." This association 
also results in a s^nification of ripened judg- 
ment and maturityTj It naturally partakes par- 
tially of the attriBt[tes of its components, black 
and white, between which it distinctly exists. 
White is enlivening ; black is gloomy ; and gray 
is intermediate, sadT/The winter sky is often 
"leaden" and we associate this color with de- 
pression. 

Itt^hus it is seen by these few simple examples 
tnaV association is an extremely important 
factor in the evolution of the language of colorT) 
There are few instances of color expression 
which do not provide interesting problems for 
analysis from the associational viewpoint. 
These problems present many ramifications and 



28 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

it is easy to go astray. It has been thought 
best to avoid the extended discussions necessary 
to present elaborate analyses of the associ- 
ational aspects and therefore these brief state- 
ments are made with reservation. 



1 



/?^/ 



NATUEE 

"The man 
Whose eyes ne^er open'd on the light of heaven 
Might smile with scorn, while raptured vision tells 
Of Ihe gay-colour'd radiance blushing bright 
0'e?^l creation." 

— Akenside. 

MANY eyes that have long been **open'd 
on the light of heaven'' seldom notice 
more than casually the wonderful colors, ever- 
changing in hue and value, which Nature pre- 
sents throughout the day and year. The ablest 
pen can not do justice to Nature's painting be- 
cause wor ds are not available .„wjbjj2k describe 
the end less vari at ion of sequences ai^j3pntraste 
qr]griinaTies^_jeconda^ and tertianej. This 
must be left to the painter who possesses mate- 
rials of descriptive power superior to words for 
such a task. (Variety is indeed the keynote of 
Nature's composition and she lavishes the con- 
tents of an infinite palette with unceasing en- 
ergy. l,No two sunsets are alike and suiccessive 
moments present everchanging expressions in 
light, shade, and color which are always full of 
interest to those who employ their sense of 

29 



30 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

vision to its full capacity. It is often wondered 
why Nature's lighting is so pleasing but the 
answer is found in its ever-changeableness — its 
variety. 

The thoughtful observer has doubtless often 
asked with Prior : 

"Why does one climate and one soil endue 
The blushing poppy with an orange hue, 
Yet leave the lily pale, and tinge the violet blue?" 



n 



Ultimately for mankind'' is the usual answer 
and it is reasonable to suppose that such is true 
when deduced from man's idea of the object 
of creation. At least there is much of interest 
in the colors of Nature, much that apparently is 
tuned in sympathy with human moods, and 
much that has been the source of our meager 
language of color. 

^'To him who in the love of Nature holds 
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks 
A various language; for her gayer hours 
She has a voice of gladness and a smile 
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides 
Into his darker musings, with a mild 
And healing sympathy, that steals away 
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts 
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight 
O'er thy spirit, and sad images 
Of the stem agony, and shroud, and pall, 
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 31 

Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart, 
Go forth under the open sky, and list 
To Nature's teachings, while from all around 
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air. 
Comes a still voice." 

— Bryant. 

And in the words of Emerson, 

"Nature is a setting that fits equally well with a comic 
or a mourning piece." 

That colors perform many functions in Na- 
ture has been suggested or proved by science. 
The colors of flowers doubtless attract insects 
that gather food and in return aid in polleniza- 
tion. It is fairly evident that the colors of many 
animals perform the positive function of pro- 
tective concealment. But it appears that a gen- 
eral office of Nature's melodies in fine grada- 
tions of hues, tints, and shades, and harmonies 
of contrast is to please the eye of the beholder 
and to touch the emotional strings of the finer 
sensibilities. At any rate, the specific offices 
of colors in Nature are not of the chief interest 
here but the fact that Nature has affected 
throughout the ages, those observing, thought- 
ful, and sensitive individuals who have directed 
the mental progress of mankind. It is there- 
fore of considerable moment to inquire briefly 
into this source which doubtless always has been 



32 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

a mighty influence upon the intellect of man, 
especially in the early ages when mythology and 
superstition were rampant, and will continue to 
be full of meaning and enjoyment to those pos- 
sessing responsive sensibilities. In this chap- 
ter only glimpses of Nature's part in the de- 
velopment of our rudimentary language of 
color will be provided; however, in later chap- 
ters more specific data will be presented. 
I In making this inquiry into the possible con- 
tribution of Nature to the language of color it 
appears quite evident that the seasons and the 
progress of the year, season by season, have 
been of dominating appeal to the imagination. 
In a similar manner the relations of light and 
color to the various portions of the day from 
dawn to night have not escaped the observation 
of mankind. 

J- The conspicuous and dominating color of 
springtime is green. It is at this season that 
green is fresh, abundant, and unmixed with the 
coloring of ripening crops or of sun-burnt fol- 
iage. It is also dominatingly conspicuous at 
this time perhaps owing to its welcome advent 
after months of black, white, and subdued color. 
Spring being the beginning of another year as 
applied to Flora's yield, its predominant color 
consistently symbolizes cheerfulness, hope, 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 33 

freshness, youth, inexperience, and immaturity. 
This season is sometimes signified by the prom- 
ising bud and also has been personified as 
** bright, infantine, and crowned with flowers." 
White is the usual color of virginity because 
of its purity and unblemished character, but 
the poets in the following lines apply the term 
to spring quite consistently and befittingly as- 
sociated with this immature season : 

"While virgin Spring, by Eden^s flood, 
Unfolds her tender mantle green." 

— Burns. 
"And softly came the fair young queen 
O^er mountain, dale and dell; 
And where her golden light was seen 
An emerald shadow fell." 

— Leland. 

{Summer is but the continuation and merging 
01 spring or youth into autumn or maturity 
It has been personified by a female figure with 
a lapful of roses and in other ways equally full 
of meaning. 

^'When Nature, prodigal of flowers 
Holds her own court ^mid rosy bowers; 
Where the soft radiant summer's sky 
Spreads its ethereal canopy 
Deepening while mellowing its hue 
In its intensity of blue." 

— M. A. Brown. 



34 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

This brings to mind one of the most impell- 
ing aspects of Nature — the sky. "Who can 
imagine anything more serene than a clear blue 
sky of a summer's day? Blue, the color of a 
clear sky, is used to symbolize serenity, tran- 
quillity, constancy, and fidelity. In early my- 
thology the blue firmament held the heavens and 
was the abode of divine beings. It is therefore 
consistent that this color be associated with 
divine love, generosity, and intelligence. The 
darker shades of this color have been thought to 
possess the attribute of melancholy, perhaps 
either through association with the sedateness 
of the darkened blue sky of approaching night 
or of the bluish shade of Nature's solitudes. 
The sky gives character and expression to every 
landscape and arouses sentiment in the finer 
sensibilities. It indicates the calm after the 
storm and in infinite ways ** betrays the latent 
emotions of the spirit of Nature." 

The green of spring prevails throughout 
summer and as the color begins to give way 
to the yellow, gold, and brown of approaching 
autumn, the effect is as though the scene were 
gently touched by the hand of sadness. 

" 'Tis sweet and sad the latest notes to hear 
Of distant music dying on the ear; 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 35 

'Tis sweet to hear expiring summer's sigh, 
Thro' forests tinged with russet, wail and die." 

— Joanna Baillie. 

Early autumn, with its riot of yellow, gold, 
brown, red, and purple mixed with some linger- 
ing green of summer, is a natural representa- 
tion of maturity, fruitfulness, and strength. It 
has been personified as fruitful, i 

"Rich the bounty Autumn brings." 

— H. J. Williams. 

In the following passage the poet has painted 
the color and mood of autumn in a masterful 
manner and has given us an excellent example 
of the expressiveness of word coloring. 

"But see the fading many-colour'd woods, 
Shade deepening over shade, the country round 
Embrown, a crowded umbrage dark and dun > 

Of every hue." 

— Thomson. 

The meditation of maturity has been ex- 
pressed by some one thus : — 

"Go, mark in meditative mood where Autumn 
Steals o'er his woods with mellowing touch, like Time 
Ripening the tints of some delicious Claude." 

The late Autumn is almost universally char- 
acterized with a melancholy mood possibly not 



36 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

inherent in autumn itself but inspired by 
thoughts of the cold and bleak months near at 
hand which signify the decay and death of the 
year.) 

"The leaves of life are falling one by one 

The woods once thick and green are brown and sere; 
And youth with all her bounteous hours is done, 
And age is here." 

— E. N. Bland. 

Some one has beautifully expressed his senti- 
ment of Autumn thus : 

" 'Tis a scene 
That o'er us sheds the mild and musing calm | 

Of wisdom, breathes as noblest bards have own'd 
Poetic inspiration, bids us taste 
The lonely sweetness of a walk with her 
By Milton wooed, ^divinest melancholy/ 
And wouldst thou go, unfeeling, and prefer 
The gorgeous blaze of summer to the charm — 
The dying charm of Autumn's farewell smile?" 

' During autumn there seems to be a rivalry of 
moods, apparently the gayety of summer un- 
willingly succumbing to the sobriety of autumn. 
The poet has beautifully suggested this in the 
following : 

"Sorrow and the scarlet leaf. 

Sad thoughts and sunny weather; 
Ah me! this glory and this grief 
Agree not well together!" 

— T. W. Parsons. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 37 

This general sentiment is also expressed by 
Mary Clemmer: 

"The Indian Summer, the dead Summer's soul." 

Many examples could be presented to illustrate 
how this autumnal season, the most attractive 
of all the seasons to poets and painters, is as- 
sociated in ideas and how the dominant colors 
become possessed of appropriate attributes. 

Winter with her mantle of gray, white, and 
subdued tertiaries has been variously and befit- 
tingly represented, but, in a dominating sense 
here in respect to the year, as symbolic of old 
age, decrepitude, and death. Its influence also 
arises from its cold and bleak aspects and from 
associating with it the white mantle of ice and 
snow. Like other seasons it has dominating in- 
fluences and is capable of reflecting to a certain 
degree the moods of mankind. Therefore its 
moods are also sometimes lively but not gay as 
the sunimer season. 

Winter is often represented as sad and even 

sullen perhaps through the .bleakness of the 

landscape and the gray skies. ■ 

../ 
"See, Winter comes, to rule the year, 
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train; 
Vapors, and Clouds, and Storms." 

— Thomson. 



38 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

"Dread Winter spreads his latest glooms." 

— Idem, 

"Every winter, 
When the great sun has turned his face away, \ 

The earth goes down into a vale of grief, ' 

And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables, 
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay — 
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses." 

— Charles Kingsley. 

And to complete the cycle of the year the fol- 
lowing is presented in which the poet contrast^ 
winter and spring: ' 

"Gentle Spring! — in sunshine clad, i 

Well dost thou thy power display ! 
For Winter maketh the light heart sad 
And thou, — thou makest the sad heart gay." 

— Charles d'Orleans. 

The influence of natural seasons and portions 
of the day, and accordingly their corresponding 
dominant colors, are indicated by many meta- 
phorical relations found in literature. On this 
point Field has written as follows : 

"The analogy of the natural series of colors, with the 
course of the day and the seasons, coincides with the ages 
of man or the seasons of life and adapts it to express them 
in the hues and shades of draperies and effects; from the 
white or light of the morn or dawn of innocuous infancy, 
through all the colors, ages, and stages of human life, to 
the black and dark night of guilt, age, despair and death." 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 39 

He continues and draws closer analogies be- 
tween human life, with its attendant moods, and 
the expressions of Nature. The language of 
color is apparently universal and though our 
understanding is meager, there is a consistency 
which has been an incentive to this study and to 
this attempt to record it briefly. 
It appears to the author that, in reference to 

.flowers, the white and lighter tints predomi- 
nate in early spring and as summer progresses, 
yellow and stronger tints appear more in evi- 

I dence until in late summer red, purple, and 
blue appear in more abundance, the whole reach- 
ing a climax in early autumn in a riot of color. 

. This impression may not be supported by care- 

iful investigation, but is presented here for what- 
ever value it may have. This point cannot be 
passed by without quoting the following ap- 
propriate lines whose authorship is unknown: 

"Already now the snow-drop does appear, 
The first pale blossom of the unripen'd year. 
Fair Flora's breath, by some transforming power, 
Hath changed an icicle into a flower; 
Its name and hue the scentless plant retains, 
And winter lingers in its icy veins." 

In a manner analogous to that of the seasons, 

! the dawn, morning, noon-day, sunset, and night, 

with their characteristic colors and light effects, 



40 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

have influenced the emotional nature of man- 
kind. Sufficient examples of these influences 
are found in succeeding chapters. Through- 
out Nature all colors are found in varying 
abundance as apparently coincides with her 
moods and with her ideas of harmony. Per- 
haps Nature does not harmonize color at all but, 
by gradual adaptation, the slowly evolving hu- 
man organism may adopt its laws of harmony 
and interpret the powers of colors according to 
the ruling archeus — the guiding hand of Nature. 
At any rate, the ultimate result is unaltered and 
we can join in this sentiment of the poet, 

"Who can paint 
Like Nature? Can ima^iation boast 
Amid her gay creation, hues like these? 
What hand can mix them with that matchless skill, 
And lay them on so delicately fine. 
And lose them in each other, as appears 
In every bud that blows?" 



PRIMITIVE LANGUAGE 

iWT is often remarked that the prevailing color- 
X names found in the languages of primitive 
races and in the vocabularies of children can 
be assumed to represent the colors which affect 
these beings most powerfully. Usually deduc- 
tions of the orders of preference are made by 
noting the relative frequencies of occurrence of 
the various color-names. It should be obvious 
that such a criterion is dangerous if depended 
upon too confidently in a study of the expres- 
sive powers of colors. The present subject is 
introduced here chiefly for the purpose of em- 
phasizing the danger of placing too much value 
upon information from this source. It is rea- 
sonable to suppose that the color-names in the 
vocabularies of primitive beings indicate in a 
general manner the more powerful colors. 
However, these are known through other 
sources including ordinary observation so that 
such evidence is at best only corroborative. 
The limitations of interpretations from this 
source are due, among other reasons, to the in- 
completeness of knowledge regarding the color- 
vision of these primitives and the influence of 

41 



42 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

mental growth in the case of the child. There 
are many thousands of different colors dis- 
tinguishable by an adult at the present time; 
in fact, in a broad sense, wherein grays are con- 
sidered as colors, the number of different color 
sensations that can be experienced is perhaps 
several hundred thousand. It is not surprising 
that the immature or primitive intellect only 
comprehends a few of these and it is reasonable 
to suppose that the most striking colors will be 
recognized first. 

. The finer feeling toward colors, that is, the 
recognition of their beauty, depends largely 
upon the taste of the beholder and taste, ac- 
cording to civilized standard^is of course 
largely a matter of civilization J iThe savage or 
the child prefers brilliant colors while more re- 
fined and matured persons prefer to have the 
colors about them somewhat subduedi The 
symphony of greenish, silvery grays of *srCorot 
does not appeal to the primitive mind. Fur- 
thermore, it should be noted that preference 
alone does not reveal the attributes or the ulti- 
mate powers of expression possessed by colors. 
Even refined persons when choosing colors for 
** color's sake" alone are found to prefer the 
purer, highly saturated colors to tints and 
shades yet they do not surround themselves pro- 



K 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 43 



fusely with these colors. The fact that colors 
of relatively high purity are in general much 
more preferred than colors containing com- 
ponents of other hues or of white or ^* black,'' 
has been quite conclusively shown by actual ex- 
periments conducted by various investigators 
as indicated in the third section of this book. 
Other data of interest at this point are also in- 
corporated in later sections. 

Philologists have shown that many of the 
languages of antiquity are characterized by in- 
Idefiniteness and paucity of color-names. In 
many cas^_^ed.,and yellow have ajpj)eared 
earlier than names^for green and blue. Some 
have'^h'ought this to be due to a subnormal 
visual sensitivity to the latter two colors as 
compared with that of the former, however, the 
tenability of this hypothesis is doubtful because, 
according to this view", it must be assumed that 
ithe color-sense is of comparatively recent acqui- 
sition and that it developed from red and yellow 
^through green to blue. It cannot be argued, a 
priori, that the development of color-names has 
always kept pace with the development of color 
sensitivity. Furthermore, it appears incredi- 
ble that a function so highly developed as color- 
vision could have evolved in the course of a hun- 
dred generations. Finally, it must be noted that 



V 



44 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

many of the lower animals appear to be able to 
distinguish practically all colors visible to man- 
kind so it is likely that even the most primitive 
race of mankind possessed a fairly well-devel- 
oped color-sense. The explanation of the scar- 1 
city of color-names in primitive languages is 
more likely found in the absence of a need for 
them. Those colors which are closely associ- 
ated with the lives of the primitive beings were 
the first to receive names. Inasmuch as most 
of the records of color expression of the primi- 
tives are not found among the remnants of 
language but among the relics of handiwork 
available, it is significant to note that red and 
yellow pigments were more common than the 
green and blue during the early periods. In 
fact it is quite reasonable to suppose that blue 
pigments were very rare before civilization 
reached a much higher stage. There is some 
evidence obtained by experiment that children 
name the colors red, yellow, green, and blue 
more often correctly than other common colors 
and that they apparently prefer these colors 
more than others. 

It appears of interest to review briefly the 
data concerning the color-vision and the color- 
language of primitive beings and of children. 
Gladstone noted the indefiniteness of the color 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 45 

terminology employed by Homer and concluded 
that the ideas of color which prevailed during 
the Homeric age were different from those of 
the present time. In the early Chinese and 
Semitic writings, in the Indian Vedic hymns 
and Norse Eddas, and even in Greek literature, 
a paucity of color-names is apparent especially 
those for green and blue. From such studies 
Geiger concluded that the color-sense for red 
evolved first, then yellow, next green, and lastly 
blue. Others arrived at similar conclusions 
from the same kind of researches. However, 
such views have been severely criticized because 
it has been shown that many modern literary 
works exhibit the same characteristics as the 
ancient writings. 

Philological evidence in this case is open to 
severe criticism although it doubtless should be 
given some attention. Examinations of vari- 
ous primitive people by modern scientists have 
revealed the fact that, while the same word may 
be applied to black, blue, and other dark colors, 
the primitive subjects are able to sort these dif- 
ferent colors correctly. 

The Egyptians employed green and blue pig- 
ments long before the,.Homeric age and beads 
of these colors have been found even in the pre- 
historic tombs constructed by this race. Such 



46 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

facts have been used by some to disprove the 
existence of color defects in the vision of these 
early peoples. It has been stated that blue has 
been used incongruously in Egyptian statues 
and even in the Acropolis since the time of 
Homer, but such incongruities cannot be a cer- 
tain indication of an inability to distinguish 
colors. 

Rivers extensively studied the color-vision of 
primitive tribes and showed that the languages 
of these uncivilized and primitive peoples in- 
dicated different stages of evolution of color- 
names which closely correspond with the prog- ' 
ress of evolution of color terminology, as con- 
cluded by Geiger and others from studies of 
early writings. For instance, certain Austral- 
ian natives used one color-name for red, orange, 
and purple ; another for black, blue, and violet ; 
and a third for white, yellow, and green. Other 
tribes used a definite term for red ; a less defi- 
nite name for yellow ; one name for green, black, 
and white; and another name for black, blue, 
and violet. Some primitives gave the same 
name to green, violet, and black. 

Other natives appeared to have advanced into 
further stages of development of color language 
there being four fairly distinct stages detected 
by Rivers which corresponded with the general 



THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 47 

intellectual development and degree of civiliza- 
tion. Those of the lowest stage had names for 
red, white, and black. In the next stage there 
appeared an additional name for yellow and an 
indication of one for green. Those primitives 
in the third stage had a definite term for green 
and a less definite one for blue. In the highest 
stage there were names for green and blue al- 
though some confusion appeared to exist. In 
the primitive languages that have been ex- 
amined, which included those of primitive tribes 
of Australia, Africa, Asia, and South America, 
the absence of a definite word for blue is quite 
common and often the same term is used for 
green and blue. The extensive investigations 
performed by scientists in various parts of the 
world tend to corroborate the general conclu- 
sions already presented. Much of this work 
was done with the study of color-vision as the 
chief object. However, from the viewpoint of 
this book the relation of color-names to the de- 
igree of intellectual and cultural development is 
of greater interest. 

Environment doubtless has been a great in- 
fluence upon the sensibility of the human or- 
ganism to various colors and consequently upon 
the introduction of color-names into languages. 
Our attention is drawn to rare occurrences more 



ti 



48 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOE 

i 

decidedly than to those that are common. Eed ^ 

is relatively rare in nature and therefore whenf 
it occurs, as in such a case as a red flower amid 
sylvan surroundings, the attention is attracted. 
The red object is mentally noted and remem-f^ 
bered while the green surroundings make little 
or no impression excepting upon those who are 
exceptionally observing and analytical. Thus 
it is possible that the primitives of the lowerl 
types would naturally have a name for red but 
none for green and blue which occur in vastly 
abundant areas in Nature. Eed objects, be- 
sides being relatively rare in Nature, have an- 
other claim to the attention of the primitives 
because they often represent objects of impor-' 
tance in the daily life of these beings. For in- 
stance, such things as animals, iron, stone, fruits,' 
and meats are not uncommonly red in colorJ 
The green foliage which is so abundant and ex^ 
tensive in area in most summer and tropical 
landscapes abounds in a variety of shades andl 
hues. This demands some degree of discrimi^ 
nating ability so that it is not surprising to find 
at least a slight degree of development of per-i 
ception for green colors among the primitives.* 
However, the extensive areas of the blue such asi 
the sky and the sea are not striking because theyi 
are so commonplace and unsaturated in colorj 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 49 

Furthermore, blue is not commonly associated 
with objects of necessity or of practical impor- 
tance to the primitive being. 

It can be concluded from the foregoing that 
polor nomenclature usually begins with red and 
progresses in general toward the blue end of 
he spectrum. In the early stages of its evolu- 
ion the transitional colors such as orange, blue- 
^reen, and violet are passed by. Nearly all 
anguages have a name for red; most of them 
lave one for yellow; but comparatively few 
lave a conventional word for green and fewer 
lave one for blue. It is not uncommon in primi- 
ive languages to find the same name applied to 
•olors closely related in the spectrum. 

Some of the American Indian languages have 
10 color-names, the color of an object usually 
)eing described as being like that of another 
Qore common object. In the absence of fixed 
omparison standards it is seen that color lan- 
niage is in a very primitive state, subject to 
hange at any time. 

Woodworth suggests the possibility of sev- 
ral stages in the establishment of a color-name, 
n the first stage there are no conventional 
lames for colors but comparisons of color are 
lade in terms of the colors of common objects. 
n the next stage the usage centers about some 



50 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



comparison standard so that all objects having 
approximately the same color are said to pos-j 
sess the color of a particular object. Abstraci 
names begin to appear in a later stage and nc 
longer are the particular comparison objects 
thought of when their names are used in desig 
nating colors. An example of the last twc 
stages is the word ** orange'' in our vocabularjfc 
of color. In still later stages the color-names 
evolved in this manner may become obsolete a^er 
applied to the object and remain exclusively aj 
the name of the color. Some of these lattei 
cases are very interesting from the viewpoin 
of the evolution of color meaning. 

Doubtless the usage of a color-name becomeijd 
fixed if the name is employed sufficiently; thaiSD 
is,. if the need for it is quite urgent. It doeire 
not appear essential that an absence of a defisb 
nitely established usage indicates an absence o re 
high sensitivity to colors because the commo^^( 
color-names of the most elaborate language! ovi 
cover many actually different colors. For thii i; 
reason the first primitive color terminology pei ff; 
sists in the vocabularies of those who do nq^s 
find it necessary to describe colors with a^ 
curacy. Many of the difficulties encountered i: 
primitive languages, in describing colors, peii 
sist in modern languages of highly civilized pec] ait 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 51 

pies. For example, most persons confuse and 
misname the colors between blue and green. 

The modern languages of the highly civilized 
peoples are rich in names for various parts of 
the spectrum. Our language is far richer in 
abstract names for the colors of the red end of 
the spectrum, that is, from yellow to red, than 
for colors in the blue region. Woodworth pre- 
sents various names in which the color ref- 
erence is thoroughly dissociated, in common 
isage, from any specific object. For reds and 
yellows and their various tints and shades he 
Dresents: red, rubicund, russet, roan, auburn, 
parmine, crimson, scarlet, brown, bay, sorrel, 
liun, yellow, tawny, sallow, lurid. To these he 
Imggests the possibility of adding buff, maroon, 
i^ermilion, and perhaps such words as magenta, 
ince the objects to which these names primarily 
efer are unknown to most persons. For the 
i^reens, blues, and violets he presents the fol- 
owing: green, verdant, blue, azure, purple, 
ivid. It is thus noted that names for red and 
tIIow not only develop first in an evolving lan- 
niage but names for these colors predominate 
ven in highly developed modern languages. 
It has already been shown that names for red 
nd yellow are in greater demand in primitive 
anguage because these are colors associated 



52 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

very predominantly with things of great im- 
portance in the lives of primitive beings.] li 
These colors are associated with animals andii 
it is said that certain African tribes name themli 
without difficulty but they cannot name colorsi'a 
such as blue and green although they can dis-i'a 
tinguish them. As Woodworth states: ^^ Tjie a 
absence.of a name for a sensory quality does notif 
point to the absenS "ot thnrqiiaHty;- The cas^ ofjii 
smell is convincing. Odors are vivid experi-P 
ences yet there is almost complete absence of|i( 
abstract odor names from all languages." J 
Many objections have been offered against! 
the use of such data as the occurrence of colore i? 
names in primitive languages in drawing con-) lie 
elusions as to color blindness or other facts in 
of color vision. These objections are well 30 
founded. It is likely that a color-name is intro^oi 
duced into a language only when it is necessary.se 
and necessity is not essentially related to color isi 
sensibility. However, from the viewpoint oiiip 
the impressiveness of colors upon the human in-^ [\\ 
tellect, the occurrence of color-names in laniie 
guage is of great importance because it appears ai 
fairly certain that colors having the ability tcior 
impress the intellect powerfully will naturall} tj. 
be provided with names. For this reason tW n 
foregoing discussion has been presented. || 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 53 

In closing this brief chapter it is of interest to 
iscuss the impression of colors upon the primi- 
ive intellect of the child because many accept 
he analogy between the development of the 
acuities of the child and the evolution of the 
ace at large. Darwin drew attention to the 
act that the child does not possess the ability 
f distinguishing colors until after it is able to 
iscriminate most common objects correctly, 
'he results of some elaborate investigations in- 
icate that the normal child is unable to dis- 
nguish colors accurately until nearly two years 
f age. It is apparent that the child is able to 
istinguish colors before it is able to name 
liem. Others have claimed that the child be- 
ins to appreciate colors as early as in the fifth 
onth. Experiments of this kind are difficult 
) interpret and various methods that have been 
5ed appear to yield different results. Color- 
sion, association, brightness and novelty play 
iportant but more or less undetermined roles, 
^ithout entering into an elaborate analysis of 
le data available no more definite statement 
in be made than that the child is impressed 
lore with the striking colors and that bright- 
!^ss and novelty are important factors. Al- 
ough the data obtained by different methods 
ith young children of various ages, from three 



54 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

months to two years, do not agree, it appears 
safe to conclude that among the various color 
red is the more striking to the child than blu< 
and is named correctly at an earlier age. 



ji 



k 



it! 



LITERATURE 

"Poets are Painters; 
Words are their paint by which their thoughts are shown, 
And Nature is their object." 

— Granville. 

rHE poetry of coloring is a common phrase 
but the coloring of poetry apparently has 
^t been so generally appreciated. Metaphor- 
jilly, the poets are word painters and literally, 
1 reference to their use of color, they are actual 
inters of figures, natural and rhetorical, 
utarch says, *^It is a common saying that 
etry is vocal painting, and painting, silent 
etry.^' Poetry abounds in the use of color 
|r its descriptive power and emotional effect 
d among the poets are found not only mas- 
'ly word painters but skilled colorists in the 
ection and arrangement of colors. In the 
•rks of Homer, Milton, Spenser, Byron, and 
lers many examples of delightful coloring are 
Imd, but Shakespeare's ability is not excelled 
conceiving the beauty and power of color and 
accurate knowledge of its science and of its 
rmony he stands eminently among the best 
iters. In the use of color, poets appear to 

55 



; 



I 



56 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

j 
exhibit individuality just as the great mastei 

of painting, but there exists among them 

generally consistent symbolism of color. I ^ 

It is delightful and profitable to study tll^^ 

use of colors by the poets from the viewpoint ^ ^' 

scientific knowledge and techinque. Some met ^ 

tion of these aspects will be made occasional '^ 

in passing but the chief interest will be f ocussi *i^ 

upon the symbolical use of color. DoubtlelFi 

the literary writers of the past are largely i! PP 

sponsible for the rudiments of the language I P 

color which are available to-day and it is ^^^' 

couraging to note a consistency among them i '^^ 

recognizing the attributes possessed by variol ¥' 

colors. The vagueness of the nomenclature ^^^ 

color engenders difficulty in describing col(^ f . 

and for this reason the uses of color by f ^^ 

poets must be carefully analyzed. Furth ^ • 

more, it must be remembered that color 

poetry is merely an element in the ensemi 

which has been organized for the purpose i 

realizing various mental pictures, sentimei i 

and moods. Therefore, a color in one ensemffj^ 

may possess a signification quite different f 

that amid another environment. For this i%h 

son concrete examples in the form of qudpe 

tions from the poets are presented in this bifE) 

work. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 57 

Artists and others interested in color can 
Tofitably borrow from the poets who have 
aken advantage of the powers of colors on 
tie imagination in much of the imagery and 
dtchery of their art. A great deal of the 
harm of many poems, or portions of them 
t least, is due to the bewitching power of 
alors. However, it appears unlikely that 
poken or written coloring has possibilities in 
jppealing to the imagination and emotion as 
jreat ultimately as painted coloring, assuming 
lie same degree of development in the imagina- 
ve power to which both make their appeal, 
jpoken coloring is limited in expressiveness to 
le significance of words whereas painters, per- 
aps, will ever be able to apply colors beyond 
le descriptive power of language. In other 
ords, the eye is the primary apparatus espe- 
ally designed and adapted for the perception 
P color. It is the normal gateway for the 
imulus on its way to arouse a color sensation 
id, finally, an emotion. Notwithstanding the 
)regoing, the poet has employed colors delight- 
illy, thoughtfully, and with good effect. 
Among the poets are good and bad colorists. 
ome apparently are concerned only with eu- 
aony while others interweave science, bar- 
ony, and beauty of color with wonderful ef- 



58 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

feet. Some one has declared the poet, Ariostc' 
to be a Titian in the art of coloring poetry 
however, from both viewpoints of quantity an 
quality of coloring, Shakespeare must be ranke 
among the foremost. Among the poets c 
lesser fame, there are many who have exhibite 
noteworthy ability in the use of color but the 
must be largely overlooked in a fleeting discui 
sion of this character. The poet has the ac^i 
vantage of poetic license which frees him f ro) i 
the necessity of using color as it is found iS' 
Nature and thus is enabled to extend his d*^ 
scriptive powers. He is licensed to descril ai 
the sea as the *^ black ocean," the **emera]w 
main'' or the ** azure deep'' and may freely el k 
tend this license to all natural and imaginai ti 
things. \ 

The colors used by the poets represent tl 
whole range of the spectrum and also of tl 
purples. These colors are often more or le 
disguised by merely inferring one or more 
them and thus awakening the imagination; Ij 
using more euphonious terms instead of tl 
simple color-names ; and by substituting natun 
objects which possess characteristic and we 
known colors. For instance, gold often taki 
the place of yellow or orange and furnishesi 
metallic luster or glitter in addition to the hil 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 59 

The poet runs the whole gamut of primaries, 
secondaries, and tertiaries, and it might be said 
that he avails himself of all the gradations of 
lue, tint, and shade, that his imaginary palette 
ontains. His supply of colors is only limited 
py his ability to observe, to imagine, and to 
iescribe. 

Poets appear to exhibit distinct preferences 
:'or certain colors ; for instance it is not surpris- 
ng to find Milton ^s palette often set with black 
^nd red. Sometimes the primary colors are 
)oldly contrasted and harmonized or the second- 
iries may be employed. They exhibit vari- 
)us moods, sometimes preferring the quiet, 
s^estful or somber palettes consisting of shades 
)ut as often having gayer moods when they de- 
ight in painting boisterously with bright colors 
f)r delicately with light and airy tints. Their 
[ises of color are not always simple, clear or 
)old. Ofttimes the color is so subdued or hid- 
len that only the subtle influence of its ^^atmos- 
)here'' is felt. However, an analysis of their 
individual palettes is beyond the scope and aim 
)f this brief discussion. As already stated, the 
Dresent object is to illustrate as broadly and 
concisely as possible the symbolical uses of 
iolor by the poets by means of excerpts from 
liheir' works. These examples, which are pre- 



60 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

sented in other chapters, have not been selected 
primarily for their beauty of coloring but for 
the purpose of illustrating various different ap- 
plications or associations of each color which 
appear of value. 

In selecting the examples of symbolic color in 
poetry it is difficult to escape from the charm 
of many fine sketches of coloring encountered. 
Appreciation of color makes our surroundings 
more beautiful, adds beauty and interest to art 
and widens the appeal of poetry. Hence, it ap- 
pears worth while to digress for a moment to 
view other aspects of color in poetry aside from 
the primary aim of this book. The following 
beautiful color sketch by M. A. Brown illus- 
trates the value of color in enhancing the witch- 
ery of poetry : 

" *Twas in a glorious eastern isle, — 

Where the acacias lightly move 
Their snowy wreaths, where sunbeams smile 

Brightly, but scorchingly, like love, — 
Round which the ocean lies so clear 

The deep red coral blushes through 
The waves that catch its crimson hue, 

While the soft roseate tints appear 
MixM with the sky's reflected blue ! 

Where, brilliant as the golden rays 

That shine when day gives place to night, 

The shells, that are as rainbow bright. 
Glow through the waters in a blaze 



THE LitNGUAGE OF COLOR 61 

Of glorious gold and purple light! 
Where roses blossom through the year, 
And palms their green-plumed branches rear." 

Imagine tlie foregoing passage stripped of its 
coloring yet doubtless many are practically 
color-blind in respect to poetry as they are to 
many other beautiful uses of color about them. 
Some of the poets appear to have had a con- 
, siderable knowledge of various sciences and in 
the science of color some have exhibited an ac- 
quaintance with the phenomena of simultaneous 
and successive contrast, of after-images and 
with the laws of color-mixture and harmony. 
Shakespeare's knowledge of these aspects of 
color is illustrated by the following passages. 
He often takes advantage of the law of simul- 
taneous contrast, the effect of one color upon 
another adjacent to it. This is simply but 
effectively demonstrated by means of two exam- 
ples of white contrasted with black. 

"Whiter than new snow on a raven's back." 

"I take thy hand ; — -this hand 
As soft as dove's down, and as white as it; 
Or Ethiopian's tooth, or fann'd snow that's bolted 
By the northern blast twice o'er." 

His acquaintance with the visual phenomenon 
of the after-image is illustrated thus : 



62 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

"My mistaking eyes, 
That have been bedazzled with the sun, 
That everything I look on seemeth green." 

Other examples could be presented to illustrate 
that poets are skilled in the science and tech- 
nique of color, however, with the risk of digress- 
ing far from the symbolical aspect. 

In the nineteenth century there arose in 
France a group of poets who aimed to express 
poetic sentiments by the use of forced or 
strained metaphors and by means of the sounds 
of letters and words. They assumed an exist- 
ing harmony between vowel sounds and musical 
instruments and according to one writer * * dwelt 
much on the hidden influence which should ex- 
hale through the inclosing envelope of the 
spoken word." They believed in a suggestive- 
nesS of the sounds of letters and words quite in- 
dependent of their ordinary signification and at- 
tempted to apply these ideas. For instance, 
according to some the sound of the vowel o sug- 
gested red and according to others it suggested 
blue. This difference of opinion is not surpris- 
ing when the complexity of the psychological 
phenomena and the scarcity of knowledge re- 
garding them are considered. Prominent in 
this school of Symbolists, as they were called, 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 63 

were Verlaine, a ** lyric poet of high order/' 
de Regnier, and Arethuse. 

I The symbolic use of color in literature is not 
/ confined to poetry although the poets have con- 
I tributed more definitely to the language of 
color than other writers. Occasional imagin- 
ings of writers of both classic and popular liter- 
ature are found which indicate that others be- 
sides those intimately associating with color as 
a science or as an art have been impressed with 
ithe possibility of ext ending the employment of 
jpolor for emotiona ^effec t. It is tnia.that„SQiae 
) of these are merely the wildest flights of fancy 
with no firm basis of fact beneath them but 
there are other examples woxthy of attention. 
Sometimes these imaginings have involved the 
use of color so positively, logically, and unas- 
sisted as to appear that the writer was foster- 
ing the belief that a language of color might 
actually exist outside of fiction. Confusion has 
arisen in the Eoinds of readers when an author 
grasps some abnormal psychological condition 
such as chrom agstbesia and weaves a story ap- 
parently based on fact. However, such cases 
as colored audition and colored gustation are 
rare and abnormal, although it might be con- 
tended that they are mutations which are fore- 



64 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

runners of a new type. However, those wlio 
seize upon such abnormal and isolated cases to 
play upon the imagination are not usually suf- 
ficiently interested in the facts to supply an 
excuse or argument such as the foregoing. 

Further discussion of this rare phenomenon 
would not be justified here if it were not for the 
harmful influence it has had in certain discus- 
sions of what has been termed ^^ color music.'' 
A number of cases of chromaesthesia have been 
studied by various investigators and there ap- 
pears to be scanty consistency among them. 
For instance, a certain taste or sound, depend- 
ing upon whether the case is one of colored gus- 
tation or of colored hearing, does not have as- 
sociated with it similar color sensations in the 
different cases on record. One subject may re- 
gard his chromaesthesia as the result of some 
sympathy existing in him between auditory and 
visual experiences whereas another may recog- 
nize the ** colors" of certain tastes by their 
**feel." In one of the latter cases, substances 
as different as cayenne pepper and quinine were 
indistinguishable as tastes both producing the 
same **feel" and inducing the same color, a 
dull orange-red. The behavior of the induced 
color in this case was dependent upon the tern- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 65 

perature of the solutions. It apparently has 
been proved in some eases that chromaesthesia 
was sensational rather than imaginal. In a 
case of colored audition the colors were induced 
by tones, — timbre, intensity, and pitch being 
conjointly influential. Tones below 600 vibra- 
tions per second induced orange and brown 
i colors; those above 12000, a colorless gray; and 
1 those between 600 and 12000 vibrations per sec- 
ond gave blue changing to green. In one case 
the subject experienced colors for spoken or 
written words and sounds, the endless variety 
of color and shading being the special feature 
of the case. The colors were always seen 
** hovering in space.'' 

In a table representing the reports of twenty- 
three cases of colored hearing, the most ap- 
parent characteristic was the wide range of in- 
dividual variation. These cases are briefly 
noted merely as of interest in passing and in 
order that no misinterpretation may result from 
their mention here it is again emphasized that 
these abnormal cases cannot at present be con- 
sidered as of any importance whatsoever in the 
possible future art purely of color. Besides a 
mere passing interest they have been briefly 
considered for a negative purpose ; that is, for 



66 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

the purpose of warning against any imaginative 
uses of this and similar phenomena which may 
be employed by writers. 

Prose has contributed toward the standard- 
ization and extension of the language of color in 
quite the same manner as poetry but perhaps 
not as effectively. For this reason the exam- 
ples of symbolical uses of color which are pre- 
sented from poetical writings will not be re- 
peated by means of prose examples. It is 
doubtful if writers of prose have aided in other 
ways unless by their imaginings they have stim- 
ulated or directed thought in certain directions. 
It is with considerable hesitancy that the author 
continues this subject further at present be- 
cause of a fear that the discussion may be more 
harmful than beneficial to the cause. How- 
ever, it appears safe to mention a classic in- 
stance of a beautiful employment of imagina- 
tion in *^The Blind Musician'' by Korolenko. 
In this sketch which the author calls a psycho- 
logical study, he has attempted to study and 
analyze the inner life of the blind. The sub- 
jects of this study are a blind girl, whom the 
author had known as a child, a boy pupil of his 
who was gradually losing his sight, and a pro- 
fessional musician blind from birth but schol- 
arly, refined, and intellectually gifted. The life 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 67 

of the blind musician is followed from birth to 
manhood and his education in colors, by repre- 
senting them as sounds, is interestingly por- 
trayed. Doubtless it is largely fiction; but 
classic fiction properly digested has value even 
in the discussion of a subject such as the pres- 
ent one where the object is to build with facts. 



PAINTING 

"Every passion and affection of the mind has its appro- 
priate tint; and colouring, if properly adapted, lends its 
aid, with powerful effect, in the just discrimination and 
forcible expression of them; it heightens joy, warms love, 
inflames anger, deepens sadness, and adds coldness to the 
cheek of death itself." — Opie. 

IT might logically be expected that the art of 
painting should contribute very materially 
to an understanding of the language of color, 
but the definite data available from this source 
aid us but little more than by verifying that 
obtained from other sources. However, there 
is reason to believe that the art of painting will 
likely contribute much of value in the direction 
of interest here. This art is apparently in the 
midst of one of its periodic upheavals during 
which it seems that a state of anarchy exists.; 
During such disturbances in art, as well as in 
other fields, many experiments are conceivedl 
and performed and those interested in progress 
welcome them and await the results expectantly. 
Of course, experiments are always in progress 
in art as in other activities but it appears that 
the present is seething with new and anarchistic 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 69 

ideas in the art of painting to an extent only 
equaled at rare periods many years apart. 
Much criticism and relatively little commenda- 
tion is heard on every side but it appears that, 
if sympathy is so meager that encouragement 
cannot be extended, at least an open-minded in- 
dulgence should prevail. 

A comprehensive study of the signification of 
color in painting is a tremendous undertaking 
if it is to be exhaustive. In this primer of the 
language of color, wherein the object has been 
to remain close to proved facts and accepted 
symbolisms of color, it would be beyond the 
scope and aim to record the results of such a 
study even though it were made. It has been 
considered the wiser plan to carry the discus- 
sion in many cases only so far as definite data, 
universal in application, are yielded because be- 
yond this the interpretations become limited in 
value. Furthermore, at the present time the 
author acknowledges inability to analyze this 
subject beyond the realm of accepted facts. 
Doubtless there are artists who apply the lan- 
^age of color too deeply for even the thought- 
ful observer to analyze but it has been difficult 
for the author to obtain positive data from the 
writings of the great artists. 

The evolution of the use of color in painting 



I 



01 



70 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

is in itself a delightfully interesting study. No 
long ago paintings were almost universalljj ^ 
realistic or photographic in character, the sub 
ject, usually very simple, being the chief mean 
of appeal employed by the artist. Pure and un-l 
diluted pigments were applied sparingly if al ' 
all. They were usually toned down apparently 
through lack of confidence or through fear ol ' 
consequences. Backgrounds were begun fal 
teringly in dark secondary and tertiary color^ 
and the finished painting, as compared witl 
many of the colorful works of the preseni 
period, appeared to lack stamina and power 
It is true that certain schools, generations ago 
employed much beautiful coloring, yet the real 
istic subject was depended upon to make theii 
work interpretable and acceptable and to overr 
ride criticism. Slowly the artist gained confi 
dence in the employment of purer colors and ap 
parently through this growing use he has gradu 
ally gained in his comprehension of the poweri 
of colors. 

In the past, the art of painting has contrib 
uted to the language of color by using color 
symbolically in accordance with the establishe 
usage in mythology and ecclesiasticism. I: 
this manner the signification of colors has beeii ,| 
strengthened by association and common con 



IS 



id 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 71 

ent quite independent of the necessity of justi- 
^ing these usages from any deeper or more 
andamental influence; that is, it matters not 
: the established symbolism is supported by 
eal corresponding effects of the colors upon 
ae mind. The deeper and more fundamental 
ource of data for the language of color lies in 
le unexplored unknown which the psychologist 
} best equipped to invade but, as stated be- 
Dre, we can not reject the language which is 
'ready established by common consent through- 
iit the past ages. Hence in chapters which 
pUow the pure symbolic uses of color in paint- 
ig will be utilized in building our rudimentary 
ctionary. 

The artist has employed colors according to a 

ore or less vague understanding of their 

5ychological influence. The drapery of color 

IS cast over paintings certain moods, often ob- 

ously consistent with our scanty knowledge 

such powers of colors. Many artists have 

alized that color can excite the imagination 

id extend ideas and those who have compre- 

snded this have been able to awaken in the 

oughtful observer a responsive chord, as yet, 

>rhaps, generally defying complete analysis. 

To revert to the discussion of the possible con- 

ibutions of color in painting it appears that, 



72 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

with the development of the art of photography 
the artist foresaw defeat in the production o 
realistic records and therefore turned with mor 
earnestness to the problem of revealing the hie 
den powers of colors. Photography can pre 
duce in black and white a satisfactory imite 
tion of the appearance of natural objects an i 
even with a fair degree of success can reprc [ 
duce the colors. In the presence of knowledg r! 
these records satisfy the requirements of '^sulji 
jecf appeal. But the artist was undismayed u 
who realized that colors guided by skill, pei ^ 
ception, and imagination still contained the ii 
herent power of producing a fairer or deepe ^i 
creation than Nature herself. This stimifc 
lated the realization that the object of paintin 5 
was not mere copying, in that painting not on^ |, 
embodies a reproduction of Nature but an evu; 
pression of the thoughts, impressions, and em^ ^ 
tions of the artist. Such a combination as co m 
ors, technique, knowledge, perceptive powe^j 
and imagination need not fear photography, i^r 
Realism began to give way to expressions ( ^^ 
light — the broad term which includes all color ijr 
For instance. Turner ^s later works, radicju, 
and ** futuristic'' during his time but acceptej, 
to-day as wonderful expressions of color, aij ?p 
examples of the result of breaking away froj 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 73 

le traditional painstaking reproduction of a 

lalistic subject. The story of the evolution of 

e employment of color expression in painting 

replete with such awakenings on the part of 

'tists and also ultimate, though lagging, 

langes of attitude on the part of critics. Not- 

Lthstanding these examples in the past history 

art, the antagonism toward modern isms in 

•t to-day is as intense as it has been toward 

rrespondingly radical departures during the 

1st. The same condition is exemplified 

'roughout the entire past by the persecutions 

I pathfinders in science, invention, politics, 

biology, and other fields of endeavor but these 

•ongs are blithely ignored or forgotten when 

b martyrs are gone and their dreams have 

ne true. It is certain that impostors are 

merous, but mankind should have learned 

ig ago that the grain cannot be harvested and 

)arated from the chaif unless seeds are first 

nted, encouraged, and nourished to maturity. 

rthermore, many successes have been built 

Dn radical departures in the use of color in 

nting. 

?he unprejudiced must find it difficult to avoid 
admission that the modern isms in painting 
re already borne fruit if they have accom- 
jhed no more than to stimulate experimenta- 






74 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR i 

tion and thought and to stiffen the backbone o 

the artist which has resulted in a bolder use o 

color. These new movements may give rise t 

an ultimate use of color largely for ^^color' 

sake'' and, by suppressing the prommence c 

realism or subject, may possibly contribute moi 

definitely to the understanding of the languag 

of color than all the painting of the past. I 

the furore of criticism and defense, of which tl 

modernists in painting have been the centc 

during the past few years, many viewpoin 

have been aired. The aim of these ^^anarc 

ists" has been variously stated many time 

however, another view, which possibly may n 

be original, appears to be sane at least. . 

judging the work of the extremists to-day t 

traditions of the past must be kept in the bac 

ground. It is ill-spent and unfair criticism th 

results from a judgment of a new moveme 

entirely in terms of the standards of the pa 

The standards of realism are nearly as usele 

in measuring the value of futuristic art as 

tonoscope would be in determining the odor 

color of a rose. Judged by the old standard; 

sky could not be painted scarlet or yellow-gre 

for the artist must not be a nature-faker only 

a reasonable degree. However, is it not possil 

that the modernists are demanding an extensi 



of 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 75 

of ^^coloristic license*'? And are they not en- 
titled to an extension of this license to a de- 
gree comparable with the extent of poetic 
license enjoyed by the poet? The author does 
not attempt to answer but is resigned to await 
the results of the experiments now in progress. 
To recapitulate, let us ask, What is art? The 
answers that have been given to this question 
are extremely variable in construction or in 
superficial meaning, but many of the ideas pre- 
sented are quite similar. The general senti- 
ment is that art is the perfection of Nature or 
indeed, as Emerson has said, the aim of art is to 
produce a fairer creation than exists in Nature. 
It appears that possibly both are correct and 
purely they are ultimately identical. In paint- 
ing it must be understood that not only the 
Dhysical is depicted but all appealing art of this 
3haracter includes painting of the mental. 
Various schools appear to attempt to paint dif- 
ferent proportions of these two elements. In 
3rder to improve upon Nature the artist must 
iepend upon improving the mental aspect be- 
cause he cannot in general reproduce from pig- 
nents alone the physical in a scene. As Mason 
lias beautifully expressed it : 

"Vain is the hope by colouring to display 
The bright effulgence of the noontide ray 



76 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Or paint the full-orb'd ruler of the skies 
With pencils dipt in full terrestrial dyes." 

Logically it might be asked, how can the 
artist perfect or improve upon Nature if he is 
limited at the outset by the incapacities of pig- 
ments in rendering the physical? It is possi- 
ble that he may accomplish this perfection by- 
bringing together in one grand ensemble all 
the elements, physical and mental, which coop- 
erate to the same end without waste or discord. 
Nature is wonderful to look upon, is always in- 
teresting, but only occasionally presents the 
ideal. Euskin has expressed a similar senti- 
ment thus: 



"Painting with all its technicalities, difficulties, and 
peculiar ends, is nothing but a noble and expressive Ian-' 
guage, invaluable as the vehicle of thought but by itself 
nothing." 



W 



Plotinus and many others who have philos-)|)fl! 
ophized on art and the beautiful contend thatsw 
beauty does not exist in the material substance coli 
but in the ideas which natural forms very in- fe 
adequately reflect. It is not seen with **th€fc 
outward, but with the inward eye.'* The Ger-fei 
man artist, Mengs, defined beauty as '^visibkiftl 
perfection, an imperfect image of the supreme r«la 
perfection. ' ' According to Goethe, * * Beauty U m 
neither light nor darkness, it is twilight, thi «ad 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOB 77 

tnedium between truth and untruth. ' ' Hogarth 
3ontends that the charm of painting which is 
iue to colors depends upon their infinite variety 
and states that coloring in the art of painting 
jtias been ^ * a mystery of all ages. ' ' Plato found 
Ihe beauty of color to lie in its intrinsic signifi- 
cance and symbolism but also attributed to color 
i pure sensuous agreeableness. 

The definitions of art and beauty and the 
:61es apportioned to color are almost number- 
ess and also quite diverse, however, there is a 
general agreement that beauty depends upon 
aarmony — a harmony of both the physical and 
nental aspects. Many of those who contend 
hat beauty is the result of harmony also ac- 
cord with the sentiment that it emanates from 
he soul. Certainly that which we derive from 
dewing a masterpiece of art is in direct pro- 
)ortion to that which we put into it. The an- 
wer to the question concerning the part which 
lolor plays in the harmony which is essential to 
beauty will only be completely answered when 
he language of color is written. No color is 
>eautiful everywhere, but each color is beauti- 
ul in its way and in certain environments and 
elations. This brief discussion of art and 
leauty is presented with the hope it will aid the 
'eader who gives further thought to the expres- 



78 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

siveness of color in painting. This subject is 
touched upon here and there throughout this 
book. 

Although painting has contributed in many 
ways to the language of color its most positive 
or most apparent contribution has been through^ 
the symbolical use of color. St. Augustine has 
said of the representations of art that they are 
**libri idiotarium" (the books of the simple) 
and certainly one of the chief aims of early art 
was to teach. Hence there arose a definite sym- 
bolism which is quite uniform in respect to line 
and form but less easily analyzed in respect to 
the use of color. As art advanced, symbolism 
has been influenced by tradition, convention, 
esthetic taste, and intellect, however, from its 
early infancy various forms and symbols have 
been a part of its language. These are mean- 
ingless without understanding but when noted 
and analyzed they form an interesting part of 
the expression of the representative artsi 
Colors are used symbolically to express a simple 
fact or sentiment, to emphasize a mood, and di- 
rectly or indirectly they are effective througt 
various associations. Thus it is seen that the 
field of painting is a fertile one but it will noi 
yield the facts of the language of color withouJ 
careful and thoughtful cultivation. 



ECCLESIASTICISM 

/ 

RELIGION, ecclesiasticism, and liturgy have 
contributed something to the signification 
of colors and have strengthened their symbolical 
usage. Especially in the early ages, emblems 
formed an important part of religious cere- 
monies and in some churches these have sur- 
vived to the present time. Many sources were 
drawn upon for emblems in the church and the 
conspicuousness of colors did not escape the 
early ecclesiasts. It appears that the same 
general significations were attributed to colors 
among many of the nations of remote antiquity. 
I Colors provided an easy means for transmitting 
/ thought and for aiding the memory. To some 
! extent, certain colors were arbitrarily associ- 
a^ted with religious events and ideas.; 
;/ The colors used in religious ceremonies were 
adapted from early writings and some usages 
^ originated in the mandates of powerful ecclesi- 
asts. The significations of colors are found to 
be in accordance with usages established in other 
activities as well as with the arbitrary mandates 
and the resulting customs. Many adopted 
meanings were merely fitted into the real and 

79 



80 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

mythological episodes which formed the basis 
of religion and therefore many significations of 
colors arose and became established within the 
church. Paintings executed expressly for 
church decoration and for illustrating the teach- 
ings were doubtless guided in coloring, as in 
other details, by the ecclesiasts and hence the 
uses of colors in such representations as well as 
in the religious ceremonies cannot be disre- 
garded in the present review. 

According to Fairholt, the history of symbolic 
colors in Christianity indicates a triple origin 
marked by the three epochs in the history of re- 
ligion, namely, the divine, the consecrated, and 
the profane. The first regulated the costume 
of Aaron and of the Levites, the ritual of wor- 
ship, and similar matters. Sculpture and paint- 
ing were introduced for illustrating the teach- 
ings and for decorating the temples and thus 
the consecrated language arose. The theocratic 
era extended until the Renaissance at which 
time the symbolic expression largely disap- 
peared, that is, the ** divine'' language of color 
was smothered in the evolution of painting from 
a science into an art. This marked the begin- 
ning of the ** profane'* era in which the sym- 
bolism of colors was largely banished from the 
church and the ' ^ divine ' ' and the * ^ consecrated' ^ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 81 

language of colors gave way to the ** profane" 
language. 

In the latter part of the Middle Ages the sym- 
bolic use of colors in the church became disor- 
ganized. Other colors and various combina- 
tions were introduced and these innovations 
crept into the Sarum ritual. The five * * mystic" 
colors, which were supposed to have been given 
by God to Moses, were in general use in England 
until the middle of the sixteenth century. The 
lack of uniformity in the symbolic use of colors 
at the present time is doubtless due to the fact 
that modern churchmen exercise their fancy and 
taste which in olden times were made subservi- 
ent to the ** divine command." 

Inasmuch as the Sarum use is conspicuous in 
the symbolism of colors in the church, it may be 
of interest to note the origin of the term. 
Sarum was a small borough in England which 
dated from the time of the Romans although it 
is now extinct except for a few ruins which 
mark its site. At the time of William the Con- 
queror, the Church of England was split into 
two parties, the conquerors and the conquered, 
according to Rolf e. In order to preserve a uni- 
formity of divine service between these rivals 
the bishop, whose seat was at Sarum, revived 
and standardized the signification of the five 



82 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

*^ mystic colors," red, gold, blue, purple, and 
white, hence the origin of the Sarum liturgy. 
An interesting reference to these colors is found 
in the Bible in the first part of the twenty-eighth 
chapter of Exodus. A discussion of the signifi- 
cation of these colors would occupy too much 
space to be presented here because their uses 
are complex. An excellent discussion is pre- 
sented by E. C. Neff in a book on Christian sym- 
bolism. As already stated, the colors of vest- 
ments and of the draperies of the altar, sanctu- 
ary and pulpit were often significant. In thei 
Greek church only two colors were used, red 
being favored for Lent; and in the Armenian 
church no colors are apparently given special 
significance. The five colors, white, red, green, 
violet, and black, constitute the ** Roman se- 
quence '^ in the Roman church. The Anglican] 
church has perpetuated the divine command to 
Moses in the Sarum liturgy although this use is 
not universal among its adherents. 
V No attempt will be made to give an exhaustive 
discussion of the ecclesiastical uses of color but 
a few examples will be of interest. Fairholt 
gives the following s^^mbolic significances of| 
various colors in ecclesiasticism: 
Red : charity, martyrdom for faith. 
Gold: glory, power. 1 



1 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 83 

Saffron: the confessors. 

Green: faith, immortality, contemplation. 

Pale green : baptism. 

Blue: hope, love of divine works, sincerity, 
^iety. 

Pale blue : peace, serene conscience. Christian 
rudence, love of good works. 

Violet : penitence in connection with figures of 
aints. 

Purple : dignity of justice, royalty. 

Eose : martyrdom. 

"White : chastity, innocence, purity. 

Txray: tribulation. 

In the Eoman church it is found that white, as 
he symbol of purity, has been used on the f esti- 
als of angels, Virgin Mary, Christ, and also 
f saints, and at matrimonial ceremonies. Eed, 
B the color of blood, has prevailed on the festi- 
als of martyred saints, and of the Holy Cross, 
•"iolet or purple has been the color of penitence 
1 Advent, Lent, etc. Green, the color of hope- 
al springtime, has been used during such in- 
jrvals as from Trinity to Advent 'Sunday, 
ilack is consistently used on Good Friday, at 
merals and during memorial services. These 
pes have persisted, more or less, for centuries]^ 
I In the Middle Ages, white was the general 

enten color, not from any direct significance of 



84 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

its universally recognized attribute of purity 
but from that of screening all colors from vie\i« 
by the use of white coverings and draperiesi 
Blue has been used in the past by priests at the 
grave, in which case it is emblematic of heaven 
White is used very generally at Feasts and 
seasons pertaining to the Lord that are not a 
sociated with suffering. White is used foj 
mourning and red for the marriage service bj 
the Chinese. 

In China and in some other parts of t 
Orient, yellow has been a sacred color. It ap 
pears to be believed by some that, with the a 
vent of Christianity, yellow and, to some exten 
red and orange were looked upon with disfav 
and the use of the colder colors nearer the bl 
end of the spectrum was encouraged. Doub 
less it was thought that these latter colors we 
symbolic of dignity, purity, and submissivenes 
Yellow became the mark of jealousy and sha 
and other warm colors, notably red, shared o(j(i 
casionally in this unenviable distinction. Thes 
prejudices became so firmly implanted that eve 
at the present time their effects are often di 
tinguishable. Such influences are not insignil 
cant in their effect upon our present attitu 
toward colors. 

Gold and silver, which besides their color p 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 85 

iss brilliancy and luster, play important parts 
. ecclesiasticism. The cross, glory, aureole, 
id nimbus are often covered with gold or silver 
bich can readily be interpreted as representing 
'illiancy, light and sanctity. Sometimes these 
^mbols have appeared in various colors and it 
believed by some that these colors had certain 
eanings. 

The rose and the lily are conspicuous in re- 
^on, both having been dedicated to the Virgin 
|ary. In this office the former is emblematic 
I love, and the latter of purity. 
In a few instances, early in history, green has 
ien held a sacred color. The use of blue occurs 
Iten in the traditions and paintings of Chris- 
^nity. In these cases it is usually emblematic 
I fidelity and of divine intelligence. Wliite is 
|ry generally used as an emblem of chastity 
d of allied virtues. Black naturally assumes 
aracteristics opposite to white and therefore 
ttibolizes woe, horror and wickedness. Gray 
s an office between black and white, and is 
^refore associated with penance, sadness, and 
imility. It is interesting to note the em- 
matic uses of combinations of these colors 
ny of which are extremely logical. 
Che Trinity has been represented by red, sig- 
ning divine love; blue, emblematic of truth 



86 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

and constancy ; and gold or yellow denoting di, 
vine glory. It is interesting to note that yel 
low, when representing gold, possesses desirabl 
attributes being variously used to signify lov( 
constancy, wisdom, dignity, light, and glon 
especially in connexion with the great chai 
acters in religions^ Otherwise yellow is a 
tributed with uncomplimentary characteristi 
For example, in France in the tenth century t 
doors of the abodes of felons, traitors and oth 
criminals were painted yellow and Judas w 
often represented with a yellow robe in 
glass paintings signifying inconstancy, jealou 
and deceit. 

Black, which suggests darkness and gloom i 
suiting from the absence of light, is a symbol 
spiritual darkness. It has been associated w 
witchcraft or diabolical power from which s 
nificance has arisen the name for the mysteri 
** black art.'' Most of the illusions to black e 
uncomplimentary or disgusting. 

In certain churches it is said that the old E 
lish or Sarum colors are being revived, 
cording to one writer, these colors are used 
follows in the draperies and vestments : red 
the ordinary Sunday color, as a penitential co^ 
on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter E^fL ^| 
^nd Whitsun Even^ and also on the same daya 



lit, 



k 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 87 

3ed in the Roman church; white throughout 
astertide ; yellow for confessional feasts ; and 
'Own or gray with violet, for penitential sea- 
>ns. As already stated the uses of these colors 
'e too extensive and complex to be more than 
uched upon here. 

In various monastic orders colors are signifi- 
,nt, though naturally the somber colors such as 
ack, brown, gray, and combinations of black 
d white predominate. The lily is dedicated to 
e Virgin Mary with consistency and fine senti- 
ent. It also officially belongs to a number of 
ints. Angels, which in early art were always 
laped, have been clothed, almost universally, in 
liite, filmy fabric in mythological representa- 
ns. Violet or amethyst, signifying passion 
d suffering, usually in relation to love and 
th, is worn by Magdalene and by the Ma- 
nna after the crucifixion. Sometimes Christ 
s been represented in a violet mantle after the 
mrrection. As already shown, yellow or 
Id, emblematic of the sun, of glory, of f ruit- 
ness, etc., plays a prominent part in the sym- 
ism of religion and its ceremonies. Yellow 
a dingy hue often signifies inconstancy and 
l^eit. These examples are sufficient to indi- 
'e that an exhaustive study of the significance 
colors in ecclesiasticism, in representations 



88 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

of events which form the foundation of religion 
and in its attendant ceremonies, should yielc 
much interesting data. Only a glimpse ha, 
been given into the subject but further detail _ 
can be obtained from treatises on symbolism u. 
religion. # 



THEATEE 

■ N the drama, colors have been endowed some- 
wL times with emblematic characteristic or have 
}een assumed to possess attributes which sug- 
gest certain events and sentiments or which are 
>f definite emotional value. The theatre has al- 
ways provided a place for addressing the masses 
hrough the language of color but development 
n this direction has been barely perceptible. 
Che reason is two-fold, first, only the faintest 
Tidimentary language exists, and second, the 
olorist with a broad knowledge of the various 
Lspects of color is not only a rarity but he has 
lot yet found his way into the theatre. It may 
18 that the experimenters in the modem theatre 
ire rising to this opportunity. At any rate 
here is evidence of attempts being made to tap 
his source of possibilities. 

The rhapsodists of Greece, when reciting in a 
heatrical manner, employed colors appropriate 
to their subject. The propriety may be ques- 
ioned, nevertheless no harm can result from 
lothing the actors or their setting with colors 
rhich appear to be appropriate because careful 
onsideration and application of color even in 
le meager light of present knowledge will bring 

89 



I 



90 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



results fully as commendable as those results 
ing from accident. It is said that these Greeksi 
when presenting Homer's Odyssey, were clothed 
in purple garments to *^ signify the sea-wander-i 
ings of Ulysses ' ' ; and when acting the Uiad thej 
were clothed in scarlet which was emblemati(| 
of the bloody battles characterizing that poem) 
Who can imagine Mephistopheles garbed in 
other colors than red and black? I 

^ Color has been used upoiL -the s tag^e to a oi 
c'entuate the mood, but relatively few instance 
have indicated more than a crude or indefinit 
attempt to use the language of color in correla( 
tion with the sentiment or action. Ofttimel 
omissions of other refinements closely allied t< i 
color in aiding in its expressiveness or in effect i 
ing the desired illusion as a, whole have emphai 
sized the crudity of the art. In the simple casl 
of using colored light to produce the illusion of 
moonlight the almost universal lack of directed R 
ness of the light, and the consequent absence (> fi 
definite and single shadows, have defeated th 
full realization of the results obtainable frorl 
the latent emotive power of color. Color hai 
been correlated with the dance but apparentlj 
with no more depth of purpose than to appeel 
to the eye rather than to the intellect. 
In the wonderful Eussian ballet where t 



1 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 91 

beautiful accordance of setting, action, and 
lausic reached a high degree of perfection, it 
[aturally might have been expected that the cre- 
Itive geniuses responsible for the production 
jrould have used color to the full extent of its 
fower. Although the employment of line and 
olor was conspicuously *^ modern," the use of 
olor for its power alone was insignificant and it 
ppeared that the creators either did not believe 

the existence of such power or felt incompe- 
nt to employ it. It is possible they wisely re- 
ained from going farther, governed by the 
Irinciple that experiments are for private view, 
it any rate it is somewhat disappointing that 
lose combined abilities responsible for the won- 
erful correlations of various arts — setting, ac- 
ion, story, and music — did not mix more of the 
mguage of color into the ensemble. It may 
ppear that this statement is born of ungrateful- 
ess and, lest it be so construed, it should be 
dded that it is doubtful if one was not already 
Jled to capacity with the effects of the wonder- 
|al blend of setting, dance, and music. This 
pises the question whether additional use of the 
(ower of colors in such cases would not overtax 

e ability of the human organism to respond 
nd therefore give rise to a detrimental reaction, 
•his may be true when the visual sense is not 



92 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

involved as in listening to music but when r 
is already in action it appears probable that th 
employment of colors properly correlated with 
the primary stimuli should result in heighten- 
ing the emotional effect. 

In the Russian dances many phases of our 
strongest emotions were portrayed. Love in 
many aspects, egotistical, selfish, weeping, pas 
sionate, spiritual, and joyful, was represente 
Also distrust, revenge, shame, terror, foil 
hope, victory, and happiness were portraye 
Such a gamut of emotions provides an excellent 
opportunity to utilize the powers of lighting an 
of color. This field represents one of gre 
future possibility in employing the language d 
color in appealing to the intellect and in touc 
ing the emotional strings. The application! 
will be obvious to those who possess themselv 
of even the meager data available regardin, 
the expressiveness of colors of which it is th 
aim of this bo6k to present a glimpse. T 
subject of this chapter could be .discussed 
better advantage at the close of this book, bu' 
it has been incorporated here as a more gen- 
erally befitting place in this review. After pe- 
rusing the later chapters the possibilities of 
more definite uses of colors on the stage should 
be apparent. 



i 



PART II 



SYMBOLISM OF COLOR 

T is the aim in this section to record a suffi- 
cient number of symbolic uses of various 
colors in order that the reader may obtain a 
general idea of the impressions which various 
colors have made upon the intellects of the 
past. An attempt is made to interpret the 
reasons for the adoption of the various signifi- 
cations, although these are recorded as concisely 
as possible. Eeference should be made to pre- 
ceding chapters in order to obtain a proper 
perspective because they contain brief discus- 
sions of various sources of our present rudi- 
mentary language of color and of the devious 
processes through which symbolic uses of colors 
have passed. The material presented in the 
following chapters of this section indicates the 
general character of our present knowledge 
I! of the expressiveness of color. The data are 
recorded as concisely as possible and care has 
been taken to eliminate repetition by choosing 
only a few examples of each use of color which 
appears to have a consistent and fairly well 
established symbolical meaning. 
It is believed that brevity of treatment is 

95 



96 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

more conducive to attainment by the reader of 
a comprehensive view of the expressiveness 
of color than an extensive and involved treat- 
ment which would aim to prove that which is 
perhaps incapable of much further proof at th 
present time. The data which are recorded ap-] 
pear to represent generally accepted usages 
with a few exceptions. Inasmuch as the cor^li 
rectness of these significations cannot be ulti-|li 
mately proved, although extended argument 
would perhaps more firmly establish the justifi 
cation of most of them and perhaps would cas^ 
some by the wayside, ihey are presented, with 
reservation, for what they are worth. This 
book is a condensed review of the products of 
thought and research in various directions 
which have been indulged in for the purpose of 
gaining an idea of the general impressions of 
color upon the intellects of mankind in general. 
The study was prosecuted largely for two rea- 
sons ; first, to learn the possible effects of colors 
upon the human organism, and second, to 
strengthen or to destroy the ideas of a single 
mind regarding these powers of colors by gain- 
ing an idea of their effects upon civilized people 
in general. By no means is it admitted that the 
author's individual intei*pretations of the pow- 
ers of colors will be cast aside entirely in future 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 97 

applications of color, but an individual is justly 
subject to criticism if he does not consider the 
impressiveness and expressiveness of colors as 
recorded by the millions who have gone before. 
It is recognized that scientific research will 
doubtless contribute much in the future and 
possibly render untenable some of the argu- 
ments and conclusions incorporated in this book 
but instead of awaiting the returns of science it 
has appeared profitable to review briefly, and 
perhaps suggestively, the data which are avail- 
able. 
|i In the following treatment of the symbolisms 
of various colors only the simplest, or most 
common colors will be used as headings for 
various chapters. The looseness and lack of 
standardization of color terminology has caused 
great difficulties and it has been considered ad- 
visable to group various allied colors under a 
simple color-name. In some cases it has been 
necessary to interpret the color which is meant 
and doubtless others may not always agree. In 
doing so, however, advantage has been taken of 
intimacy with color terminology in its loose- 
ness and peculiarities as used by the layman, 
the artist, and others having various degrees 
of interest in colors. 
f\ Purple has been included either in the chap- 



98 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

ter on the symbolism of red or in that of blue 
(violet) as appeared appropriate. This color 
has a just claim for individual treatment but, 
inasmuch as ofttimes it is called red (as in the 
case of blood) when it contains but a small blue 
component and sometimes blue or violet when 
it contains only a small red component, it has 
been divided between these two chapters. In- 
cluded under the simple name, yellow, are a 
vast number of color-names closely allied, such 
as gold, orange, saffron, citrine, brown, etc. 
There are many browns, some bordering on red 
shades, others on yellow shades, and still others 
are close to black. These have been appor- 
tioned according to judgment. Green is more 
specific, yet it includes yellow-greens and blue- 
greens and such shades as olive. Blue is not 
so often confused as most of the other colors al- 
though violet and some of the bluish-purples 
are included under this color-name. 

It is a striking fact that we have few names 
for the achromatic sensations and a great many 
for the chromatic "sensations. The relative 
number of names in the two cases are not in the 
least proportional to the relative number of 
the two different kinds of sensations which we 
actually experience. This has the advantage of 
simplifying the treatment of black, white, and 






THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 99 

gray from the present viewpoint. The three 
have been treated briefly in separate chapters 
and some of the common significations of com- 
binations of black and white have been inter- 
spersed. Some of the dark shades of colors 
have been noted under black and gray. The 
justification of grouping the data under a few 
simple color-names is based upon simplicity. 
The use of the colors red, yellow, green, and 
blue is based on the distinctiveness of these 
colors in the spectrum, ir'urple does not exist 
in the spectrum but is fully as distinct as any 
of these four colors. It is entitled to separate 
treatment but, as already stated, it is used so 
confusedly and interchangeably with red, violet, 
and blue that it appeared the simpler and safer 
plan to incorporate it under red or blue as best 
suited to the individual case. These points are 
worthy of consideration if this subject be car- 
ried beyond the confines of this book. Success- 
ful application and interpretation of the ex- 
pressiveness of colors will depend upon a broad 
acquaintance with the science of color which 
can be gained only partially through contact 
with books and theory. Contact with colors 
themselves in all their relations to the perceiv- 
ing apparatus and to each other is necessary 
for a broad and intimate acquaintance. 



EED 

MANY symbolic uses of red have often 
arisen from an association with blood 
and thus red represents health, tragedy, anger 
and many attributes more or less allied by this 
association. Ked has symbolized fire^ he_at, 
\var, cruelty, and haired, and has signified 
power and destruction. It has dyed the robes 
of royalty and martyrdom and the red flag has 
|led many warriors into batt^^ whether repre- 
senting bravery, strength, or blood. The latter 
signification may share the responsilMity for 
the universal acceptance of red as a danger, 
signal along with the distinctiveness of this 
color and its relatively high purity in Nature. 
USome of the emotions, such as anger and-shame, 
are accompanied by visible effects of blood 
wliich have given rise to definite significations 
jbf red. In its gentler offices, red is emblematic 
nf love and truths as well as of health and 
Ipeauty. In such cases apparently it is not the 
spectral red but is usually a tint resulting from 
dilution with white and sometimes with the ad- 
dition of violet. The former is a tiu^ of red; 
the latter is usually a tint of purple, that is, a[ 

100 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 101 

rose or pink. Ofttimes the tint is clearly im- 
plied in such significations. Redness is indica- 
tive of the ardent passions as the blush of love 
and also of bashfulness or of shame. This.\ 
color is often confused with purple or the latter 
term is used metonymically for red. In fact, 
the color of blood is a purple in which red 
greatly predominates. ) These pitfalls must be 
avoided in order not to experience confusion in 
attempting to analyze the various uses. 
II In the **Ode on the Passions'' by Collins we 
*nd : Anger with * * eyes on fire ' ' ; Revenge with 
^'blood-stained sword"; and Cheerfulness **a 
nymph of healthiest hue.'' Spenser has dec- 
orated many vices and virtues with colors. 
For instance, Faleshood is *^clad in scarlet red" 
and Praise-desire is clothed ^*In a long purple 
pall, whose skirt with gold was fretted." Mid- 
dleton writes of the *^ bashful rose." 

Satan has been clothed with red and black 
and these colors have symbolized purgatory and 
evil spirits. On the other hand, the red and 
white roses in the garland of St. Cecilia ap- 
parently signify love and innocence. Gosse 
paints Cupid's lips **more red than any rose." 
Aurora or Eos, **the rosy-fingered goddess of 
;he morn," was the mother of stars, evening 
Dreezes, and the morning. She is represented 



102 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

with rosy complexion and bright yellow robe! 
She rises from the streams of Ocean, is adorne; 
with the color of the rose and pearls of dew am 
is drawn in a chariot by cream-colored horse 
to bring light to mankind. Sometimes tb 
youthful and gayly-clad Horas or Hours, an 
represented in her company. In Guido 
** Aurora'' the colors are in excellent accoii 
with the succession of colors at sunrise, j^ 
an emblem of love and beauty the rose hr 
sometimes been dedicated to the Virgin Mar; 
JEed has been widely used in China at marria^ 
ceremonies. 

In Greek mythology we find that the Furii 
sprang into being from the blood of the mu| 
lated Uranus. Ovid described the romance 
Pyremus and Thiebe ; the former was the ban 
somest youth, and the latter the fairest maid, 
Babylonia. They had planned a meeting u 
der a white mulberry tree but through a mi 
take each committed suicide under this tre 
Their blood reached the roots of the tree so th 
the purplish-red hue mounted to the berries ai 
henceforth the tree has borne ** purple'' bq 
ries. 

In the Tales of a Wayside Inn by Longfello 
Thor the thunderer, the strongest of gods a 
men, and the eldest son of Odin says, 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 103 

"The light thou beholdest 
Stream through the heavens, 
In flashes of crimson 
Is but my red beard 
Blown by the night wind, 
Affrighting the nations!" 

I The convivial qualities of Bacchus are often 
touched upon, for example, as in the following 
by Dryden, 

"Flushed with a purple grace." 

When purple inclines toward redness it hasf' 
ong signified royalty. In this respect it is a\ 
I regal and pompous color and has been used for 
'the robe of Jupiter and as a distinction of 
priestly superiority. It has been a symbol of 
heroic virtue, and the Babylonians are said to 
have clothed their idols with it. It is used in 
mourning, especially in court mourning and in 
I other affairs of state. 

In a description of the musical contest be- 
tween Pan and Apollo (the former having had 
1he temerity to compare his music with that of 
[Apollo) Apollo's '*robe of Tyrian purple swept 
the ground." 

, Amethyst and violet have symbolized suffer-V 
|ing, passion, love, and truth. Christ wears itl 
after the resurrection, the Madonna, after the| 



104 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

crucifixion and, in general, penitents were clac 
in it. When red is diluted with white, anc 
isometimes with blue, resulting in rose and pink 
It symbolizes beauty, love, and hope.^ Hence thi 
rose is the emblem of the goddess Spes and thd 
Destinies and has been dedicated to the Virgii. 
Mary. To look upon the world * * through rose 
tinted glasses'' is synonymous to a cheerfulj 
lopeful, and confident personality. 

Red is a **warm'' color of great power if sucU 
ih expression is passable, however, when mixe( 
dth sufficient blue it becomes *' neutral" an( 
'even **cold." It is the color given to courage 
and hence was a military color especially in th^ 
days when warriors trusted to valor more thai 
to strategy and concealment. The red flag ii 
associated with blood or danger and was th' 
Roman signal for battle; hence **hang out th 
red flag" is a common phrase especially in earl; 
writing. Shakespeare signifies a challenge ti 
battle thus, 

"Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag." 

The heroes of old, such as Scipio and Hanf 
nibal, are said to have worn red shields, ind 
eating strength, prowess, and courage. In thl 
hands of the anarchist this color denotes de 
fiance, hence the red flag is a symbol of an e3 



I 




r 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 105 

treme revolutionary party or of anarchy. 
This color is used as a danger signal in many 
distinct offices. It is supposed to affect ani- 
mals in various ways, especially exciting the 
ull to rage. 



"While Mars, descending from his crimson car, 
Fans with fierce hands the kindling flames of war." 

— Haller. 

The poet sometimes applies purple to the 

olor of blood with greater accuracy than is 

isual. 

"Oft came Edward to my side 
With purple falchion, painted to the hilt 
In blood of those that had encountered him." 

— Shakespeare. 

"But when the flaming torch was hurled, the sign 
Of purple fight, as when the trumpet sounds," etc. 

— Euripides. 

A poem inspired by the horror of the Great 
Var by Margaret Widdemer contains, 

"Ours is a dark Eastertide 
And a scarlet spring." 

Shakespeare, who was a masterful word-col- 
rist, contributes many excellent symbolic uses 
if color from which the following have been 
elected : 



106 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

"Thy ambition 
Thou scarlet sin, robVd this bewailing land 
Of noble Buckingham." 

"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, 
And thus the native hue of resolution 
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." 



"And let's be red with mirth." 
"I am the very pink of courtesy." 



"He is come to ope 
•The purple testament of bleeding war." 



"If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister, 
And never to my red-look'd anger be 
The trumpet any more." 

"Beaufort's red sparkling eyes blab his heart's malice." 

"How bloodily the sun begins to peer 
Above yon bushy hill! The day looks pale 
At his distemperature." 

(^ ^ "Beauty's ensign yet 

^^,<^ Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks 
J And death's pale flag is not advanced there." 

" 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white 
Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on." 



THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 107 

I Many other poetical examples of the symbolic 
luse of red, or of colors closely related to it, 
are available, from which the following few 
ihave been selected : 

"Celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue." 

— Milton. 

"His (Cupid's) lips, more red than any rose," 

— GOSSE. 

"Would you know where young Love in his beauty reposes. 
Go — seek for the boy in the Valley of Roses." 

— M. A. Brown. 

"The rosy-finger'd morning fair." 

— Spenser. 

"Morn, 
Wakes by the circling Hours, with rosy hand 
Unbarr'd the gates of light." 

— Milton. 

"For me the balm shall bleed, the amber flow, 
The coral redden, and the ruby glow.'* 

— Pope. 

-_._«fjij^g scarlet honour of your peaceful gown.'* 

— Dryden. 

"He spoke; the goddess with the charming eyes 
Glows with celestial red, and thus replies," 

— Pope. 

"His hand did quake 
And tremble like an aspen green; 



108 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

And troubled blood through his pale face was seen 
To come and go; with tydings from the heart." 

— Spenser. 

, .. "Blooming youth and gay delight 

gj^Oi^^^Z^ Sit on thy cheek confessed." 

*^. '-^ —Prior. 

"In every breathing bloom I find 
Some pleasing emblem of thy mind, 
The blushes of the opening rose 
Thy tender modesty disclose." 

— Richardson. 



YELLOW 

YELLOW and orange, their neighboring 
hues and various tints and shades are 
warm colors whose most striking characteris- 
tic perhaps is lumin osity. The brighter colors 
are symbolic of light and warmth, and in this 
sense yellow is also gaudy, gay, lustrous, and 
enlivening. It is the natural emblematical 
color for the sun. In China, yellow has been 
quite extensively employed as a regal and 
sacr^d^color. Perhaps for lack of euphony it 
appears often under the guise of golden, saf- 
fron, brown, sallow, tawny, orient, citrine, and 
many other names. The colors grouped here 
under yellow are very extensively employed by 
the poets in many variations of hue, tint, and 
shade. 

As a symbol of light and warmth Aurora is 
clothed in ** saffron robes." 

•'Soon as the white and red mixt fingerM dame 
Has gilt the mountain with her saffron flame." 

— Chapman". 
"Heaven^s golden-winged herald." 

— Crashaw. 

Somewhat akin to this, Spenser array? 

109 



110 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Charity in ** yellow robes" and the warmth of 
the hues allied with yellow is exemplified in, — 

, ''Extremes alike in either hue behold, 

Hot in the golden; in the silvery, cold." 

— Shee. 

In the Ode to Passions, Collins refers to 
** brown Exercise'' and similarly Thomson 
sings of, — 

"The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil. 
Healthful and strong." 

In the sense of being glorious and lustrous it 
is often used thus, — 

"And Fame, with golden wings aloft doth fly." 

— Spenser. 

Yellow and its allied colors often denote 
harvest or fruition. 

"The yellow harvest's countless seed." 

— Byron. 
"Yellow, mellow, ripened days, 
Sheltered in a golden coating." 

— Will Carleton. 

Gold has the additional conspicuous quality 
>f brilliancy and metallic luster and often rep- 
•esents glory and power. Doubtless the in- 
trinsic value of gold has largely influenced its 
Symbolic use. 



/ 



/ 

THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 111 

The cross is often of gold and the five wounds 
of crucified Christ sometimes are represented 
by inserting as many rubies, one in the. center 
of the cross and one at each extremity. Silver 
is also employed in this respect. The gold and 
silver are perhaps symbolical of light, bright- 
ness, and sanctity. Yellow or gold has been 
emblematic of the sun, of marriage and f ruitf ul- 
ness and of God's goodness. In some repre- 
sentations St. Peter and St. Joseph are clothed 
in yellow. 

• The glory, aureole, and nimbus usually 
painted in yellow or gold, represent brilliancy, 
light, and sanctity. The aureole surrounds the 
whole body, and the nimbus encircles the head. 
The glory is a combination of the two. Strictly, 
only persons of the God-head were endowed 
with the aureole, but the Virgin Mary is invested 
with it in representations of various events. 
The glory belongs to the Virgin as well as to 
God. The nimbus belongs to all saints and 
holy persons. These symbols began to appear 
in Christian art about the fifth century and 
their color in all great painting is golden, sym- 
bolic of light, glory and divine power. In 
miniatures sometimes these symbols have been 
painted different colors. It is believed by some 
that the colors are symbolical, but nobody 



112 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

versed in the art and traditions of Christianity 
has ventured an analysis. 

Orange or brown in the darker and less beau- 1 
tiful shades appear to be used sometimes lis 
emblems of distrust or deeeitj_and_ yellow 4s 
sometimes Associated _wiili_ indecency, morbid- 
ity, decay, cowardice, and indecent sensational- 
i^m _as-ia-rfEe_case of ^^low -journalism? * 
Yellow is used to clothe various malign pas- 
sions. A yellowish complexion often indicates 
illness and this same color, usually with a green- 
ish tinge expressed or implied, is very generally 
used as a symbol of jealousy, j Examples of the 
foregoing are: 

*'The cynosure of jaundiced eyes." 

— Shakespeare. 
"I will possess him of yellowness." 

— Idem, 
"Jealous piques, 
Which th' ancients wisely signified 
By th* yellow mantoes of the bride." 

— Butler. 
"And Jalousie 
That wered of yelw colors a gerlond . 
And had a cuckow sitting on hir hond." 

— Chaucer. 
"0 jealousy, 
Thou ugliest fiend of hell ! thy deadly venom 
Preys on my vitals, turns the healthful hue 
Of my fresh cheek to haggard sallowness, 
And drinks my spirit up!" 

— Hannah More. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 113 

''Aiid jealousy, suffused with jaundice in her eyes, 
Discolouring all she viewed." 

— Dryden. 

The dingy yellow or brown, such as often dis- 
tinguishes the garments of Judas, signifies, be- 
sides jealousy, deceit and inconstancy. This 
color has also been used in the past to mark the 
abodes of traitors and other criminals. 

"His very hair is of the dissembling colour 
Something browner than Judas's." 

— Shakespeare. 

Yellow is also associated with sickness and 
disease, hence jthe yellow flag is used as a sani- 
tary signal being displayed on vessels having 
on board cases of infectious or contagious dis- 
eases. It serves this office on quarantined 
ships and houses and has indicated hospitals in 
time of war. In the latter case it assumes the 
role of protector. 

Orange apparently has partaken of many of 
[the qualities of the colors related to it and is 
used in a corresponding manner. 

Bipwnj which inclines toward red and black, 
is mo re grave. _ It signifies strength, solidity, 



vigor and, to some degree, sadness. The 
* 'melancholy days'' of autumn are painted 
largely in a brown key. This color, in perhaps 



114 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

an extreme application of the preceding, is re^ 
garded by some as emblematic of sluggishness 
In Nature it represents maturity. 



I 



L GREEN 

h 

GREEN is employed to signify youth and 
vigor perhaps through the association of 
I green_with.jh^~ispriiig of 4h^-,;yagi« At least 
I green is more impressive in spring because of 
jits newness. It-.aI&aJias,.baeU-Used to express 
ihope and victory^ and oliv e, a gre en shade, is 
j§ymk)iical---^~-&olitud£!_and peace. As com- 
pared with other colors of the spectrum it is 
relatively neutral and some of its symbolic uses 
(appear to be the result of the prominence of this 
characteristic. /To poets,_green is indicative 
also of cheeriulness, as ^^ cheerful green,'' 
plenty, life, and immortality, and through its 
association with the spring of life it is widely 
^jed as^a svmbol of inexper ience. 1 When green 
is tinged with yellow it apparently assumes 
some of the attributes of yellow./ It also is 
used throughout poetry in the same relative 
abundance as it is found in nature, although the 
pure symbolic uses do not appear to be as 
numerous as might be expected perhaps owing 
to its neutral characteristic. 
/Green as the color of spring is an emblem of 

flope, victory and plenty.) Verdure indicates 

115 ^ 



116 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

life and hence green is emblematic of immor- 
tality. ' Saturn is crowned with evergreen, an(3 
the custom of strewing green foliage upor 
graves is consistent with this analogy as is th 
adornment of Poets and Time with fillets o 
green. This color also, signifies Youth, th| 
spring of life. In Ovid, Apollo says to th 
laurel tree into which Daphne whom he lovecjj 
was transformed, 



^7^ 



"And as eternal youth is mine, thou also shalt 
Be always green and thy leaf know no decay." 

/This color has also denoted memory and ill 
a few earlv instances was held to be sacred or 
holy color.) The poets have used this color cm' 
tensively according to analogy, fancy, and to itf 
use in Nature. Iln mythological represent^ 
tions the hair and garments of Neptune, th] 
Dpyades, and the Naiades are dyed with greeq 

At is of interest in passing to note how 
color may become woven into the traditions 
a people and cherished in the extreme di 
chiefly to continued association. For examph 
green means far more to tfee Irislrrgcet^an ti 
other civilized peoples at the prese nt tim A 

In liturgy green denotes' faith, linmonalit^ 
resurrection of the just, and gladness of tl]| 
faithful.^ In some churches green is used f< 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 117 

Easter and in mediaeval days was associated 
with the Feast of the Trinity. In these offices 
the color perhaps signifies the rejoicing of the 
faithful. /As an ecclesiastical color it prevails 
in one church from Trinity to Advent Sunday. 
The following are a few selected examples 
from the poets : 

*'You are too wise in years, too full of counsel, 
For my green experience." 

— ^FOBD. 

"My salad days, 
When I was green in judgment, cold in blood." 

— Shakespeare. 

"The memory be green." 

— Idem. 

"That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe 
The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit." 

— Idem. 

"While virgin Spring, by Eden's flood. 
Unfolds her tender mantle green." 

— Burns. 

"Green is indeed the color of lovers." 

— Shakespeare. 

"And with a green and yellow melancholy, 
She sat like Patience on a monument, 
Smiling at grief." 

—Idem, 



i 



118 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

'*0, beware, my lord, of jealousy. 
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock 
The meat it feeds on." 

— Idem. 

"Eternal Spring, with smiling Verdure here 
Warms the mild air, and crowns the youthful Year." 

— Garth. 
"But he her fears to cease 
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace; 

She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding Ig 
Down through the burning sphere." 

— Milton. |-, 

"The wreaths of cheerful May." f i 

— Collins. 

"Where Peace, with ever-blooming olive, crowns 
The gate where Honour's liberal hands effuse 
Unenvy'd treasures." i 

— Akenside. , 

"In jealous Pisa's olive shade!" 

— Collins. 

( Sometimes green is used to signify illness bu 
doubtless in all cases the word is used for eu^ 
phony instead of yellow-green. In cases o^ 
this character the tint is usually clearly implied' 

For instance, — 

i 

"To look so green and pale." | 

-Shakespeare. , 



^ 



BLUE 

rHE quality or attribute most striking ia 
blue is_jColdness^ a nd, as i s true of otheA 
Dlors, it communicates this property in vary-\ 
ig degree to all colors which contain blue com- 
onents. Another^ conspicuous characteristic 
its proximity to black. Many of the symbolic 
5ies oFblue apparently have arisen from its 
roperty of coldness and from the association 
I blue with the firmament, vfrom its coldness 
I is characterized as dignified _and soothing 
FonTits sliaJawy nature it -signifies sed^teness 
id melancholy ; and doubtless, from being the 
)T^ of clear Wy it has 15eeh associated witli 
?a~ven, hope, constancy, fidelity, serenity, gen 
•6sity7 inteiiigence,_and truJtli._J In many r 
j)ects it is opposed to orange or yellow, it 
pmplementary. In an ancient doctrine the 
iue of the sky is supposed to be a compound of 
^ht and darkness. The expression of *Hrue- 
ue'' for constancy and fidelity is commonly 
jed and perhaps originated with mariners 
om associating the blue sky with freedom 
om storms. Hope is **clad in blue'' by Spen- 
T. Minerva is often clothed in blue robes and 

119 



I 



120 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

personifications of Poetry have been draped ii 
this hue. In Nature, the blue sky is conspicu 
ous and has affected some primitive peoples 
deeply. The association of blue with the heav 
ens doubtless has been responsible for the sym 
bolic use of this color for divinity, divine love 
and supreme intelligence. In a similar man 
ner, combined with the belief that **the eye i 
the window of the souP* blue eyes have bee: 
symbolic of intelligence. This color also ha 
been associated with the learned or pedant^ ' 

and aristocratic as ** blue-blooded.'^ 

' t 

'^Soine ladies were very blue and well informed." i J 

— Thackeray, t pjj 

Blue is a conspicuous color in many repr( ^ 
sentations of biblical events. Christ, the Vi! 
gin Mary, and St. John have often been clothe 
in mantles of blue. This color is also prom 
nent in mythological representations. The ve 
of Juno, the goddess of air, is blue; Diana ( 
the Moon is clothed in blue and white or si 
Very robes ; and Isis of the Egyptians and hi 
priests have been clad in **pure azure." M^ 
nerva, who in Homer's Odyssey is *^azur|,( 
eyed,'' is distinguished by a mantle of blufl 
She sprang from the brain of Jove and, i\ 
though being the goddess of storms and wslp 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 121 

v^as also possessed of a fair and thoughtful 
lature. She was eternally a virgin and god- 
less of wisdom, generosity, and thought, 
lence, 

"The blue-eyed progeny of Jove/' 

— Dryden. 

In his poem, Venus of Milo, E. E. Sill sings, 

''The tremulous rosy morn is her mouth's smile, 
The sky, her laughing azure eyes above." 

n litur gy blue is symbolical o f hope, love of 
!ivig £Works, Ch ristian prudence, a serene 'coF 
ence. sincerity, di vine conte mplationT' and 
pie ty. Blue robes have been worn by priests a t 
;he grave and it is believed that the color used 
n this case is symbolic of heaven. The Levites 
j\^ore this color as the livery of heaven. 

The attribute of harmony is sometimes be- 
stowed upon this color. For instance, 

"Where'er we gaze, — around, above, below. 
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found! 
Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound. 
And bluest skies that harmonize the whole." 
^- — Byron. 

/ Blue is often associated with coldness and l\ 
melancholy and with dismal and unpromising/v 
prospects.^ 



122 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

"Oh, coward Conscience! how dost thou afflict me! 

The lights bum blue!" 

— Shakespeare. 

''The pale violet's dejected hue." j . 

— Akenside. \L 

Other symbolic uses of this color by the poeti 1 
are exemplified in the following: 1^ 

"Long, Pity, let the nations view 

Thy sky-worn robes of tend'rest blue, 

And eyes of dewy light." 

— Collins. 

"And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue." 

— Milton. 



WHITE 

T is not surprising to find white used as m 
symbolic of light, purity, chastity, innocence, r 
[truth, modesty, and peace: In a somewhat aly 
lied sense, in which the attribute of physical 
weakness predominates, it is emblematic of 
femininity, delicacy, and infirmity, which usage 
doubtless arises from the association of a pale 
complexion with ill-heaMi, lack of stamina, orv 
a delit3ate constitution. nf White is synonymous 
to unadulterated or uncSanged light and its at- 
tributes are obviously quite opposed to those^ 
supposed to be possessed by black.J 

To Jupiter, the Eoman lord of heaven and of 
light, white was sacred. White horses drew his 
chariot and white animals were sacrificed to 
him by consuls who were clothed in this color. 
His priests were crowned with white head-gear. 
The white vestments of priests and of the 
Pythagoreans were emblematic of peace and 
purity. The lily has often been used to signify 
chastity and belongs to St. Antony of Padua, 
St. Catherine of Siena, St. Casimir, St. Clara, 
and others. The crucifix entwined with lilies 
has been bestowed upon St. Nicholas of Tolen- 

123 



124 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

tino and upon many who especially dedicated 
themselves to the Virgin Mary. I White is worn 
by the latter in representations of the Assump- 
tion and by Christ after his resurrection. 
White as the color of purity and joy is used on 
the festivals of Christ, Mary, the angel^ and 
unmartyred saints and also at marriagesN In 
Anglican churches this is the prevailing folor 
throughout Eastertide. 

/whites is often emblematic of humility and 
/when ^orn by the judiciary symbolizes integ- 
j rity. J In old Koman paintings. Friendship has 
'been draped in white. Truth has been idealized 
by a woman holding lilies, jj Venus, the goddess 
of love and beauty, was the daughter of Jupiter 
and Diana and, according to one version, she 
sprang from the foam of the sea at the time of 
the wounding of Uranus. She is therefore 
called Aphrodite, the **foam born,'' by the 
Greeks. The Hours and the Graces wove robes 
for her that ** reflected the hues and breathed 
the perfumes of crocus, hyacinth, violet, rose, 
lily, and narcissus.'' Poetry has been personi- 
fied holding white roses and Roman poets 
clothed their god, Pietas, in white. Spenser 
writes of the ** virgin lilie" and Middletonj 
likens the **holy dew of prayer" to a pearLj 
Owing to its eminent luminosity, white is used: 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 125 

to enliven without the aspect of gayety. We 
also have the white flag of surrender and of 
peace, the ** white feather '' of timidity and the 
white shield of untried manhood. 
An liturgy white quite naturally symbolizes 
purity, temperance, innocence, and as a back^ 
ground for figures of saints signifies chastit^ 
In China, white is the color used in mournings 
Examples of symbolic uses of this color by 
the poets are, 



"White-robed innocence." 

— ^POPE. 

"The snowy wings of Innocence and Love." 

— Akenside. 

"As chaste as unsunned snow." 

— Shakespeare. 

"Now, by my maiden honour, yet as pure 
As the unsullied lily, I protest." 

— Idem, 
"Dark-wounding Calumny 
The whitest virtue strikes.'' 

— Idem. 

"Thou tremblest, and the whiteness on thy cheek 
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand." 

— Idem, 

"Yea Jupiter ! But why this mortal guise, 
Wooing as if he were a milk-faced boy?" 

E. R. Sill. 



126 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOE 

"White robed truth." 

— Milton. 

"The saintly veil of maiden white." 

— Idem, 

"White as thy fame and as thy honour clear." 

— Dryden. 

"By the semblance 
Of their white flags display'd, they bring: us peace." 

— Shakespeare. 

"My hands are of your color, but I shame 

To wear a heart so white." 

"^ —Idem. 



'^ 



BLACK 

S might be expected, the symbolic uses of, 
black have been quite opposed to those'' 
f white. It has signified woe, gloom, darkness, \ 
dread, and death and, in a severer aspect, terror, 
horror, wickedness, and crime. When use( 
with white, the latter appears to rid it of its 
baseness or to tone its Lavereness. In this com- 
bination it has been variously used to symbolize 
humility, melancholy, Resolution, solemnity, 
secrecy, and prudence. /Among civilized people 
it has been for ages the ensign of woe, mourning, 
and death. It is the most retiring of colors and 
in painting it has been used to exf 'ss ^lem- 
mty, profundity, and endless exten^ The 
I /black sheep'' signifies an individual different 
/than the rest and usually in an uncompiimen-\ 
|tary sense. This color is variously applied \ 
j suggestively as ** black tidings,'' ** black Fri- 
Iday," ** black aspect," ** black augury," and/ 
y* black looks." The black flag is associated/ 
with piracy and with warfare when no quarter 
is to be given. Spenser clothes Idleness in a 
^* habit black." 
It is said that the ancient sculptors executed 

127 



128 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

statues of Jupiter, tlie terrible, in black marble 
and of Jupiter, the mild, in white. Pluto's 
chariot was supposed to have been drawn by 
black horses, and black sheep were sacrificed 
to him. Odin, a great and severe god in North- 
ern mythology, rode a black horse as Gray says, 

^'Uprose the king of men with speed 
And saddled straight his coal-black steed." 

Black was the garb of the Harpies and the 
Furies, the daughters of Night. In mythology, 
Mors, or Death, is represented with pale face 
and clad in black garments. Somnus, god of 
sleep and brother of Death, is draped in black, 
and statues of him were often made of ebony 
and black marble. Night, the mother of all 
these figurative beings, is clad in a black mantle 
studded with stars, has sable wings, and is 
sometimes drawn in an ebony chariot. 

"Eldest Night 
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature." 

— Milton. 

"Sable-vested Night, eldest of things." 

— Idem. 

"Night with her sullen wings." 

— Idem. 
"0 thievish night." 

— Idem. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 129 

^'Ghostly, grim and ancient Raven, wandering from the 

Nightly shore, 
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian 

shore !" 

— Pope. 

But night has another aspect; its silent, 
starry, endless expanse awakens irqagination. 
Who has gazed at the studded sky in the silence 
of midnight who has not imagined as at no 
other time 1 Imagination is another world and 
' the nearly infinitely distant stars, as attracting 
magnets, seem to draw the imagination far into 
another world. At no other period of the day 
is the purely imaginative mood so fostered as 
at night with its freedom from distractions. 

It has been stated that ancient poets and 
painters represented Hesperus, or evening, *^as 
a double investure of light and shade.'' As 
Lucifer and Phosphorus they give him a white 
horse, and as Hesperus a black one. Black has 
been associated with witchcraft and from its 
' association with mystery arose the term ** black 
art." 

In northern mythology, the white spirits or 
Elves of Light, according to Bulfinch, were 
**fair, more brilliant than the sun, and clad in 
garments of delicate and transparent texture." 
They lived in the domain of Freyr, the god of 



130 THE LANGUAGE OF, COLOR 

the sun, and sported in light. *'The black or 
Night Elves were a different kind of creature. 
Ugly, long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown color, 
they appeared only at night. Their language 
was the echo of solitudes, and their dwelling 
places subterranean caves and clefts. ^ ^ ^Black 

tis often given to Sata n symbolizing wickedness 
and^dgEffi^T"" 

Examples of the symbolic use of black by 
Shakespeare are : 

"Look'd black upon me ; struck me with her tongue, 
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart." 

^'Nor customary suits of solemn black." 

»<» "Arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell." 

"How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags'?" 

"News fitted to the night, — 
Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible." 

"Youth no less becomes 
The light and careless livery that it wears, 
Than settled age his sables and his weeds. 
Importing health and graveness." 

"Taking thy part, hath rushM aside the law, 
And turned that black word death to banishment." 

"Black lust, dishonour, shame, misgoverning." 

"And beauty dead, black chaos comes again." 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 131 

"Black is the badg-e of bell, 
Tbe hue of dungeons and the scowl of night." 

The power of black in poetry is strikingly 
shown in the following to be equal to its power 
in painting : 

"Hence, loathed Melancholy, 

Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born, 

In stygian cave forlorn, 
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy, 

Find out some uncouth cell, 
Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings, 
And the night-raven sings; 
There, under ebon shades, and low browed rocks, 
As ragged as thy locks, 
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell," 

— Milton. 

Other symbolical uses of black are presented 
in the following examples : 

"Not the black gates of Hades are to me 
More hostile or more hateful, than the man 
Whose tongue holds no communion with his heart." 

— Sydenham. 

"Overlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue." 

— Milton. 

"There the black gibbet glooms beside the way." 

— Goldsmith. 

"The black and doleful ebonie." 

— Spenser. 



132 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

"Black tidings there, — blacker never came to New England." ^ 

— Hawthorne. 

*'A great black swamp and evil smell." 

— Tennyson. 

Black is one of the most important pigments 
to the artist. It combines well with all colors 
and this characteristic has sometimes led to its ■ 
symbolical use occasionally in a harmonious 
sense seemingly inconsistent with other uses if 
this attribute is not recognized. It harmonizes; 
well with the gayest colors and the representa- 
tion of the goddess Flora in a black mantle is ap- 
propriate in this sense. Gray has beautifully 
expressed this idea thus : 

"The hues of bliss more brightly glow, 
Chasten'd by sabler tints of woe; ; 

And blended, form with artful strife, 
The strength and harmony of life." 



GRAY ^ 

f 

IN many respects the expressiveness of gray- 
partakes partially of the attributes of both 
)lack and white and is sometimes a well-defined 
piean of their characteristics. It is the color of 
penance, kumility, sadness, age and matured 
judgmentJ Spenser speaks of Humbleness as 
*aged sire, hoary gray'' and of Eeverence, 
* cleanly clad in comely sad attire. ' ' In Nature 
t is ofttimes considered cool, retiring and sug- 
gestive of distance. The skies of winter and of 
:ainy days are often of a grayish or leaden color 
md the dreariness associated with such bleak 
DCriods of * deaden dullness'' appears to have 
Deen inherited by this color. To Thomso;n, 
Winter is ** sullen and sad" as he * * spreads-^flfs 
latest glooms" and many poets share a similar 
sentiment regarding this season. The ap- 
proaching night, with its * twilight gray" asso- 
ciated with quietude and a note of sobriety or 
ladness, has lent its assistance in attaching 
these attributes to this color. 
jj According to their traditions, the Dominicans 
w^ore a habit requested by the Virgin Mary. 
This was composed of black and white, the 

133 



134 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

former symbolizing mortification and the latter 
purity. Various monastic orders wear black, 
gray and brown in different combinations. II 
is noteworthy that the colors were invariable 
neutral or nearly so. The Greeks often repre- 
sented Jupiter clothed in the skin of a graj 

goat. 

.1' 

t Crray apparently takes a consistent place be- 
tween black and white according to its usage b} 
the poets as might be suggested in these lines 
by Pope, I 



(' 



'*If white and black blend, soften and unite 
A thousand ways, is there no black and white?" 



"t has been used to signify humility, penance 
piety, matured judgment, sobriety, fear, anc 
death. As already stated, it appears to as 
sume attributes similar to those of its compo 
nents, black and white, even when the latter an 
unmixed but used simultaneously. As a back 
ground for paintings of saints it signifies tribu 
lation.i 

"Let hoary Judgment, sober guest, 
Bring Candour in her lilied vest." 

"Now came still evening on, and twilight gray, 
Had, in her sober livery, all things clad." 

— Milton. I 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 135 

"For all was black, bleak, and gray, — 
It was not night — it was not day." 

— Byron. 

"Gray-headed men and grave warriors mixt." 

— Milton. 

"Oh! how unseemly shews in blooming youth 
Such grey severity." 

— Idem, 

"The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade 
To paly ashes, thy eye's windows fall." 

— Shakespeare. 



VARIOUS COLORS 

■N closing this section, in which it has been 
the aim to disc uss the expression aSg^syTO ^ 

hnlicjTYi nf nnlnrg hy rr^c^^if]^ ^f rlatfl as rlpfinifp aa 

obtainable, a few illustrations of the use of light 
an d colors in various combinatimiH will b ^jniJ-" 
^nted. Some of these examples will be selected 
from the poets who exhibit a wonderfully re- 
fined feeling for color in painting their many 
vari-colored sketches. They also reveal a 
highly developed sense of appropriateness in 
the application of color and a masterly skill in 
contrasting and in harmonizing colors. The lat- 
ter viewpoint is not of direct interest in the 
present work but it is of interest in passing. In 
some of the following examples colors have 
been used symbolically although more or les 
vaguely. 

"Seest how fresh my flowers been spread, 
Dyed in lily-white and crimson-red, 
With leaves ingrained in rustic green, 
Colours meet to cloathe a maiden queen." 

— Spenser. 

"To thee, sweet smiling* maid, I bring 
The beauteous progeny of spring; 
In every breathing bloom I find 
136 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 137 

Some pleasing emblem of thy mind. 
The blushes of that op'ning rose 
Thy tender modesty disclose. 
The snow-white lilies of the vale, 
Diffusing fragrance to the gale, 
No ostentatious tints assume, 
Vain of their exquisite perfume; 
Careless, and sweet, and mild, we see 
In them a lovely type of thee." 

— Richardson. 

'^ There is something in the autumn that is native to my 

blood — 
Touch of manner, hint of mood ; 
And my heart is like a rhyme 

With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping 
time." 

— W. B. Carman. 
r 

Ofttimes the word, color, is used suggestively 
as in the following, 

"Colouring with astonishment and disdain." 

— Jane Austen. 

"Figures of poetrie 
Or coloures of rethorik." 

— Chaucer. 

The lamp, lantern and taper are often the 
symbols of piety, but according to Clement the 
lamp as the attribute of St. Lucia signifies 
heavenly wisdom or spiritual light. Fire and 
flames are sometimes emblematic of zeal or the 
sufferings of martyrdom. The flaming heart 



138 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

most frequently signifies piety and divine love. 
Isis, the goddess of the rainbow, is represented 
as the messenger of the gods. 

In the Library of Congress, Carl Gutherz has- 
painted a pictorial spectrum of light which con- 
sists of idealizations of the seven principal col- 
ors. The significations are not all clear but 
they are presented here for reference. Violet 
(akin to purple) is the light of State; indigo, 
the light of Science; blue, of Truth; green, of 
Research ; yellow, of Creation ; orange, of Prog- 
ress ; and red, the light of Poetry. 

In some representations a glory of angels sur- 
rounds Christ, the Virgin or the Trinity. The 
Seraphim and Cherubim are symbolized by 
heads with one to three pairs of wings and 
painted blue or red. According to Clement, 
'Hhe Seraph, whose name symbolizes Ho love' 
should be red, and the Cherub, whose name sig- 
nifies *to know' should be blue." White is 
usually the prevailing color of angels' robes. 

Some artists and writers have noted that the 
human countenance is a masterpiece of the 
natural expression of colors. As indicated in 
the preceding, redness accompanies anger and 
the ardent passions, the blush signifies bashful- 
ness or shame, yellowness is the result of ill- 
ness, grief, and envy, and blueness is due toi 






THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 139 

ear, terror, hate, agony, and death. Whether 
r not scientific investigation will support all of 
he foregoing, these ideas are prevalent and 
iave been woven into mythology, art, and lit- 
rature for many centuries. 



PAET in 



NOMENCLATURE 

AMONG the various phases of the science of 
color the most discouraging chaos is found 
the state of color terminology. Even among 
le various sciences interested in color, such as 
physics, physiology and psychology, the terms 
which are used for different color qualities are 
|ar from being standardized and universally 
deiinite. Upon turning to the vocabularies of 

irtists and laymen the terminology is found to 
e so indefinite and misapplied as to leave one 
bewildered and quite incapable of determining 
le exact meaning of many of the terms which 
re used. This state of affairs is the more dis- 
ppointing because the various color quantities 
r qualities are well established and readily de- 
ned scientifically. Furthermore, the science of 
lolor cannot boast even of a rudimentary 
cheme of notation. To make the meaning 
lear let us consider music. The nomenclature 
of sounds is very definite, well established, and 
almost universally accepted. In order to con- 
nect and to harmonize tones into music, a 
system of notation — the musical scale — ^was 
dopted, thus making printed music a universal 

143 



1! 



144 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

language at least among the more highly civ 
ilized peoples. This standardization has no 
reached all parts of the earth, but has spreac 
and taken root in a remarkable manner whei 
compared in this respect to the nomenclaturi 
of color. Of course it took many centuries f o: 
the terms of the science of tones and of the ar 
of music to reach their present highly standard 
ized and readily interpretable state, but colon 
have been used for centuries without more thai 
a rudimentary beginning of a standardization o 
the nomenclature. 

It appears not only profitable but necessar 
to insert at this point a brief discussion 
color and of color terminology not only for th 
purpose of aiding the reader in understanc 
ing clearly other chapters but to spread th 
propaganda of standardization. The termin 
ology considered here will be that which ha 
been acceptable to the physicist for many yearg 
This appears justifiable because the terms seeE 
to meet the requirements of other scientists a 
well as artists and, furthermore, the physics o 
color is in a higher state of development tha; 
other aspects of the subject. 

Before discussing terminology, the fund£ 
mentals of color will be treated briefly. Ligl ^ 
rays can be decomposed by a prism or by a dii 






THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 145 

■raction grating into colored rays. Investiga- 
;ion has revealed the fact that the radiation 
•rom a light-source, such as the sun, consists of 
iisturbances of various wave-lengths (in a 
lypothetical medium called the ether) some of 
vhich, when impinging upon the retina of the 
jye, are capable of arousing the sensation of 
jolor, depending upon the wave-length or f re- 
luency of the vibration. The rays of shortest 
vave-length (highest frequencies) which are 
visible produce the sensation of violet and the 
ongest visible wave-lengths (lowest frequen- 
ies) produce the sensation of red. Intermedi- 
te wave-lengths, from the shorter to the longer, 
roduce respectively the sensations of blue, 
reen, yellow and orange. It will be recognized 
;hat the spectrum has been described and that 
hese colors are known as the spectral colors. 

Under favorable conditions the rainbow is 

Produced in Nature, which in reality is the spec- 

irum of sunlight. Although many different 

lues are visible in the spectrum besides those 

represented by the foregoing simple color- 

lames, a large class of colors, namely, the pur- 

les, has not been mentioned. These do not 

xist in the spectrum but are the result of the 

ynthesis of the violet or blue and red sensa- 

ions. 



146 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



lai 



This brings us to the matter of color-visio 
which will be touched upon briefly here but mor 
elaborately in the chapter on the Psycho-physi 
ology of Color. The eye is not an analytical ir 
strument but a synthetical one. In other words 
a given sensation of light or of color is the ir 
tegral effect of radiation of many wave-length 
except in the case of pure spectral colors. Fo 
example, white light is the integral effect of al 
visible wave-lengths in daylight or, in specie ^' 
cases, is the combined effect of complementarj 
wave-lengths. Another example is the sense 
tion of yellow which can be caused in thre 
ways : first, by a certain wave-length in the spec 
trum; second, by a mixture of green and rei 
lights of proper intensities; and third, by th 
integral effects of various wave-lengths such a 
are commonly reflected by yellow pigments, i: 
which cases the wave-lengths exciting the ser 
sation of yellow predominate. These thre 
ways of producing the sensation of yellow ar 
only general classifications because there ar 
many combinations of wave-lengths in the las 
two whose integral effects result in arousing th 
sensation of yellow. 

It is also well known that proper mixtures c 
red, green, and blue lights, when acting simul 
taneously upon the retina, will produce a coloi 



le 



It 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 147 

less sensation or white. Many such examples 
could be presented but these are sufficient at 
present to show that the sensations of color, 
even of simple colors, are complex when con- 
sidered from the viewpoint of the stimuli. 

It is well to bring to attention the diiference 
between spectral colors and the colored lights 
and pigments ordinarily encountered. Spec- 
tral colors are produced by radiation of single 
iwave-lengths, or nearly so. This is never true 
of the colors of pigments or of colored lights 
ordinarily available. Pigments generally re- 
ect rays of many wave-lengths and colored 
ights usually consist of rays of many wave- 
lengths. 

Two distinct kinds of color terminology are 
necessary to meet all requirements. The 
science of color requires a terminology and no- 
tation based upon the spectral characteristics 
pf colors because spectrum analysis is of funda- 
mental importance. However, from the view- 
point of this book we are concerned chiefly with 
what the eye sees, so that the actual spectral 
characteristics will not be considered here. 

Turning then to colors as the eye sees them, 
jhue is the first important color quality. Ordi- 
nary colors, with the exception of purple (which 
includes pink, rose and allied colors), have a 



148 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

dominant hue which corresponds to a spectral 
color. Hue is, therefore, that quality of a color 
which is correlated on the physical side with 
wave-length or frequency of light waves. In 
the case of purple, which has no match in the 
spectrum, the hue of its complementary can be 
associated with it in scientific data. 

After matching the given color with its cor- 
responding spectral hue and equating the two 
in brightness, it is seen that the two colors dc 
not generally appear alike. They now differ 
in saturation or purity and by mixing a proper 
amount of white light with the spectral color a 
apparent match can be obtained. Most pig|l( 
ments reflect a sufficient range of wave-length 
on either side of the maximum so that the colo 
is diluted with a certain amount of white ligh 
This is also generally true of transparent col 
ored media or of colored lights. The fractio 
of white light, which has been added to th 
spectral hue to produce a match with the colo 
being analyzed, when subtracted from unit 
gives a measure of the purity of this colo 
Thus the saturation or purity of a color is de|es; 
pendent upon the amount of white light associ 
ated with it. A spectral color is of one hu 
dred per cent purity on this basis and whit 
represents the other extreme or zero per centln 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 149 

purity as a color. In analyzing a purple by this 
method a spectral color is mixed with the pur- 
ple to make white and the remaining procedure 
LS obvious. 

, The third quality of a color as considered 
from the standpoint of what the eye sees is 
brightness. For purposes of analysis this fac- 
tor can be measured in relative or in absolute 
mits depending upon the requirements. Thus, 
t is seen that the three qualities of a color are 
me, saturation or purity, and brightness. 

Only two other terms are necessary to com- 

)lete a simple color terminology of considera- 

>le effectiveness and descriptive power. If a 

I pectral hue or a pigment be diluted with white 

t becomes less saturated or of lower purity and 

s called a tint. For example, the light from a 

andle flame is a tint of yellow, that is, a yel- 

ow of low purity or saturation; a pink is an 

nsaturated purple ; and the blue sky is a tint of 

lue. In other words, tints of a certain hue are 

reduced by varying the saturation. 

Shades are produced by reducing the bright- 
ess of a color. This can be accomplished in 
jwo ways : first, by decreasing the illumination 
f a color it becomes a darker shade ; second, by 
nixing a ** perfectly black'' pigment with a 
jiven color, a shade of the latter is produced. 



1 



1 



150 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Thus with the terms, hue, saturation, brightness' 
tint, and shade, a terminology of very extensive 
application is available. Many of the indefinite 
or not widely used terms can be discarded with 
out sacrificing anything but an undesirable con 
fusion. Doubtless certain general terms no\^ 
used in the vocabularies of the artist can be re 
tained to advantage but most of the require 
ments of color terminology are well met by th 
five foregoing terms. At least descriptions o 
color should be confined as closely as possible t< 
the five terms or similar ones. It appears tha 
these are worthy of adoption because the 
emanate from the most firmly founded brand! 
of color. 

Other methods of analyzing color are avail 
able, notably the method which matches a give 
color by mixing proper proportions of rec 
green and blue lights. This method is base 
upon an experimental fact of color-mixture bu 
is less desirable as a basis for the terminolog 
of color because the results cannot be readil 
visualized in terms of the appearance of a colo 
The method of analysis which yields results i 
terms of hue, saturation, and brightness is moi 
promising because the data are more easil *^ 
visualized in terms of what the eye actually see 
on viewing the colors. 



i( 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 151 

Regarding the notation of color there is little 
discuss beyond stating that there is no scien- 
ically founded notation available at present 
though commendable schemes have been pro- 
sed. The one which best fits into the termin- 
3gy favored by the author makes use of the 
^asurements of hue, saturation and brightness, 
lis scheme of notation which has been advo- 
ted by various persons interested in color, 
itably Munsell, would perhaps require that the 
:uration and brightness scales be divided em- 
ically but referred to certain standards, 
r instance R^, would represent a red color 

ose brightness is 6 and whose saturation is 

both these numbers being stations on em- 

'ical scales. Perhaps ten stations on each 

lie would be sufficient and in this case the 

Dve notation would represent a red color 

kpse brightness was 0.6 of the brightness of 

)erfect white under equal illumination, the 

glitness of the white being considered as 10 

ts. Relative brightness in this case is suffi- 

nt. The wave-length of the dominant hue 

Id be associated with, or substituted for, the 

;er J?, which would indicate the dominant hue 

Kcifically. 
^he data so far would be meaningful. A 
ictral color could be represented by 10 units 



i 



152 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

or complete saturation and in the foregoing 
case the color would be 0.7 saturated or would 
have 0.3 white mixed with it. Adherence to the 
foregoing terminology and notation would in- 
sure against the present chaotic condition. It 
is doubtless too early to expect the adoption of 
such scientific notation because scientists must 
first present data in these terms, but there ap- 
pears no reason for not using the terminology 
described above or terms akin to these instead^ 
of the variety of indefinite terms now in use. ' 

The number of different color sensations 
which we are able to experience has not been de- 
termined even approximately but from various 
modes of attack this number can be shown to be| 
as large as several hundred thousand. Cer- 
tainly the future cannot depend upon individual 
color-names for the correct designation of these 
colors. This emphasizes the need of a sys- 
tematic system of color notation. 

Chromatic sensations differ from achromatic 
sensations in that they form a closed series 
That is, the former may be placed in a continu 
ous series, as is commonly done, about the cir 
cumference of a circle or the periphery of s 
square. Beginning with red, we can pas? 
through the spectrum to the violet and close th^ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 153 

remaining gap with the purples varying from a 
iolet-purple to a reddish one. The arranging 
f various colors in certain relations upon geo- 
etrical forms is merely for convenience in vis- 
lizing the variations and relations of colors 
if^^hich are perceptible to the eye. Both plane 
and solid geometrical forms have been used, 
a|mong them being the square, circle, equilateral 
I ttiangle, pyramid, cone, cylinder, sphere, etc. 
^he use of such forms is highly commendable as 
an aid in arranging colors in certain sequential 
relations but it is a mistake to press these geo- 
ipetrical dimensions and relations too far into 
I the theory of color. Many ingenious adapta- 
! tions of solid geometrical forms have been made 
'. fbr providing arrangements of the spectral col- 
1 ors and all their tints and shades in certain 
approximate relations which can be visualized 
as a whole. In order to account for certain 
physiological and psychological peculiarities it 
is necessary to modify these figures into some- 
what irregular and asymmetrical forms. 

Achromatic sensations do not form a closed 

spries. If we begin with white and pass through 

tie grays we finally reach black, but nothing re- 

riains with which to fill the gap from black to 

j^fhite again unless the series of grays be re- 



154 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

peated in reversed order. This difference is 
significant in dealing with colors in many of 
their uses as touched upon in this treatise. 

We are able to distinguish fewer spectral hues 
than achromatic sensations, yet we have a great 
many more names for the former. If all the 
tints and shades of colors be included with the 
perceptibly different hues the number of chro- 
matic sensations that can be experienced is 
greatly increased. As previously stated, the 
exact number has not been determined experi- 
mentally but it is possible to compute approxi- 
mate values which mount as high as several 
hundred thousand. 

Between white and black it is contended that 
we can experience more than six hundred differ- 
ent sensations. Psychologists do not agree as 
to whether or not the colorless sensations differ 
in quality as well as in intensity. Wundt be- 
lieves they differ only in intensity but some 
psychologists, notably Titchener, contend that 
they differ also in quality. The latter contend 
that a gray can differ from another in two im- 
portant characteristics; it may be lighter (or 
darker) and it may also be brighter (or 
duller) . It is possible that the latter character- 
istic can be considered merely a physical one 
possessed by the object and consequently there 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 155 

is some question as to the acceptibility of this 
characteristic as a quality of sensation. Color 
(in the narrow sense of the term) is accom- 
(panied by emotions and by strong sentiments to 
a much greater extent than neutral grays (mere 
brightness) but both have their functions in the 
language of color. It is simpler to discuss each 
Separately and this procedure is therefore ad- 
hered to whenever it is possible. 
I In the foregoing, the discussion has been con- 
fined largely to the science of color nomencla- 
ture for the purpose of defining the terms upon 
^ rigid foundation. Pertinent data concerning 
color-names and their evolution are found in 
the chapter on Primitive Language. It is well 
to consider that chapter as an introduction to 
the present one. In reflecting upon our color 
notation it is interesting to select from the great 
mass of words, which are used to describe or to 
designate colors, those words which are abstract 
feolor-names and to select from these the names 
'which apply directly to the spectral colors. If, 
in connection with this study, observations will 
!be made on the ability of the average person to 
describe colors, it will be concluded that many 
lof the difficulties or characteristics of primitive 
language persist in recognizabie form in our 
jpresent highly developed languages. 



PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGY OF COLOR 



L 



IGHT rays which enter the eye stimulate 
the physiological processes of vision 
which result in the sensations of brightness and 
color. Thus it is seen that vision involves the 
physical stimuli, the physiological processes, 
and the psychological sensations. I It is impos- 
sible to separate completely the physiological 
and psychological elements; hence this discus- 
sion is presented under the combined term, psy- 
cho-physiology. Visual experiences touch the 
w^hole personality and, therefore, the physiolog- 
ical and psychological results of color are more 
complex than is indicated by the foregoing 
simple description of the visual process. OChe 
e ffects of visual stimuli can be observej jupon 
fhft blood prpss^^re^jop on muscula r, mental, and 
nervous act ivity, upon the moodT and in variou s 
other ways,. ■ There is a vast amount of data 
available upon the physiology and psychology 
of color-vision but relatively little concerning 
the effects of color sensations upon the human 
organism.^l'The latter data are of chief interest 
to us from the viewpoint of the language of 

color, however, various color phenomena will be 

156 "^' 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 157 

discussed here because of the complex texture 
of the subject of this book. 

Numerous hypotheses of color-vision have 
been proposed, some differing entirely in princi- 
ple while others are closely related to each other. 
An extensive discussion of this aspect of color 
is not contemplated because space does not per- 
mit and because it would be out of place here. 
However, it appears profitable to discuss this 
subject by comparing the two hypotheses which 
have the greatest number of adherents and 
which have been studied and discussed exten- 
sively. In treating these two theories — for in 
many aspects they have evolved from the 
*^ hypothesis^' stage — we are not especially con- 
cerned with the physiological processes in- 
volved but with the main characteristics which 
aid in clearing the view for a better understand- 
ing of the possibilities of the application of 
color. 

Many years ago. Young constructed the three- 
color theory largely from the facts of color- 
mixture. It has already been noted that any 
color can be matched in hue and in brightness by 
a proper mixture of the three primary colors, 
namely, red, green, and blue. Young assumed 
three sets of nerves or processes to exist in the 
visual apparatus and all color-sensations to be 



158 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

due to the integral result of the stimulation of 
these three primary sensations, namely, red, 
green, and blue. Later, the great work of 
Helmholtz supplied this three-color theory with 
a more extensive experimental foundation. 
Many data of interest from the viewpoints of 
the theory and practice of color have been sup- 
plied by such investigators in the field of vision 
but there are still many questions unanswered. 
One of the most vulnerable points of the three- 
color theory of vision has been the lack of ana- 
tomical evidence regarding the three hypothet- 
ical sets of nerves or physiological processes. 

Hering, who has been the most conspicuous 
and arduous antagonist of the foregoing theory, 
constructed an hypothesis of color-vision based 
largely upon the simple psychological facts of 
the appearance of colors, especially of the spec- 
trum. From the simplicity of the appearance 
of -white and hI^Lck^red _and green, yellow and 
blue, he concluded that these represented the 
primary RftusatiouR wh ose integral" effe cts in 
any case were _respon sible for a ^iv^ncolor- 
sensation.^ It was necessary for him to assume 
the existence of three chemical processes each 
of which was responsible for two sensations 
paired in the preceding statement. The build- 
ing-up of one of the substances was assumed to 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 159 

be responsible for one of the sensations of a 
given pair and the breaking-down of the sub- 
stance was responsible for the other sensation. 
Unfortunately here again anatomical evidence 
of the existence of the three assumed processes 
is lacking. 

There is much in favor of the Hering theory 
especially to those who have an intimate ac- 
quaintance with the appearance of colors. If 
the spectrum is studied, red appears to be un- 
diluted with any other color, that is, no sug- 
gestion of another color is associated with it. 
This is considered by a great many persons not 
to be true of orange or of any of the **tran- 
sitionaP' spectral colors between red and yel- 
low, however, the latter appears to many per- 
sons to be a simple color unmixed with any other 
color. In progressing from the yellow toward 
the short-wave end of the spectrum no simple 
colors appear until we reach a certain green 
which appears to be a color in which no other 
color is suggested. Continuing through the 
spectrum we meet with another color which is 
simple in appearance, namely blue. White and 
black are also considered simple colors and thus 
the six simple sensations appear to be red, yel- 
low, green, blue, white and black. This argu- 
ment has much in its favor as a basis upon which 



160 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

to found an hypothesis of color-vision. One of 
the most encouraging features of the Bering 
theory is the possibility that it may separate the 
brightness and hue phenomena completely and 
thus simplify many of the unanswered questions 
concerning vision. In fairness it should be 
noted that some investigators claim all colors 
are simple in appearance. 

The phenomena of contrast has been one of 
the most conspicuous battle-grounds of the ad- 
herents of these two chief theories. This point 
is of special interest to us owing to the great in- 
fluence of contrast — both in hue and in bright- 
ness — upon the appearance of colors and there- 
fore upon their appeal to us. It is difficult to 
pass on without discussing many of the inter- 
esting phenomena of vision which have been dis- 
covered and investigated by adherents to these 
theories and without presenting some of the 
main features of other hypotheses worthy 
of consideration. However, such discussions 
would lead far afield without adding much of 
value from the viewpoint of the language of 
color. Suffice it to state that Young and Helm- 
holtz who builded their hypothesis largely upon 
a foundation consisting of the facts of color- 
mixture, might be criticized for not giving the 
psychological aspect more prominence. Hering 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 161 

has injected into color-vision theory the very 
interesting elements of sensation with greater 
prominence than his predecessors. Both theo- 
ries contain much to be commended and it will 
not be surprising if future investigation shows 
each to be partially correct. 

We are not concerned here primarily so much 
with the physiological and psychological phe- 
nomena which actually play a part in color- 
vision as with the general physiological and 
psychological effects resulting from the influ- 
ence of color. As already stated these latter 
data are not plentiful for these fields of the 
science of color hava not been explored to any 
appreciable extent/ (Fere studied the e ffect of 
c olored light up on muscu lar activity w hichef- 
fect_ was measured dynometrically. In ord i- 
nar y light this muscular activity was found t o 
be 23 units on an empirical scale. It increased 
to 24 units for blue light ; to 28 for green H glit ; 
to 30 for yellow light; and to 35 and 42 units^ 
respectively, for orange and red light. Thus is 
seen mibre evidence of the stimulating^ effect of 
the * * warmer ^ ^ colors J 

*^^rPRSpy^ who has^studied the effects of re d, 

^ ^.een^ yellow, blue and wh ite li ght of eq ual in- 

feTTRitifis^ fornifl t hat, after subjecting a perso n 

to a given color for five minutes, he could de- 



162 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

tect differences in the effects of the various col - 
ofsnii pon tapping: activity, memory, menta l 
work, etc. He found subjects with pronounced 
JTitole ranee for a'particular color. The mental 
proc esses of one subject might take 20 per cen t, 
more time under the influenc e of one color or the 
memory work of anotlier might s how marked 
improvement under a certain colored ITjE cht. 
T apping activity was more uniform with gr ^^ 
li ghtf slower with blue light and decidedly 
quicker under red light. [Arithmetical work 



was strongly improved under red light and jn 



a less marked way by an increase in brightness j 
Pressey's work is encouraging from the view? 
point of the possibility of obtaining experi- 
mental data regarding the physiological and 
psychological influences of colors, for he finds 
constant differences indicated by the averages 
of the results from many subjects. Further- 
more, it is well to note a characteristic result of 
his investigations, which is of great importance 
in the language of color, namely, the independ- 
ence of such objective results from the sub- 
jective feelings. In othor words, the colored 
lights which are experienced as pleasant do not 
necessarily produce more favorable conditions 
for working efficiency than those which are felt 
as unpleasant. Although this complicates our 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 163 

problem by limiting predictions or conclusions, 
it appears to indicate a very definite and power- 
ful influence of color upon the human organism. 
It is only n atural to expectjiliait; ^^^^^r- onnf\\fir^j^^ 
Being equal, man y~activities would be favored 
*^U L r^^^^^""^^^ <"^lAr f^pdlp u d^r^d by n n ^M in- 
pleasant ^ Q^e . This being contrary to the f ore- 
^bmg results it follows that the power of colors 
is by no means feeble in their influences upon 
the physical and mental activities. 

In judging the appeal or affective value of 
color it is well to bear in mind that there are 
many pitfalls. For example, a colored light is 
likely to be judged according to the appearances 
of the familiar objects which it illuminates, 
whereas an object of this color is not always 
judged in the same manner because its color is 
not illuminating other objects either agreeably 
or disagreeably. For example, let us illuminate 
an entire scene with green light. It now has the 
appearance of a monochrome which in itself 
flight be pleasing but suppose a human face ap- 
peared under this green light. The face would 
appear ghastly and under many circumstances 
the green light would be condemned. Remove 
the object which provoked this judgment against 
the green light and the aversion to green would 
perhaps disappear. It w^ould be an endless task 



164 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

to cite examples which would exemplify all the 
conditions under which color is viewed and 
judged, therefore it is most practicable to make 
a plea for keen analyses of conditions before a 
judgment is reached^ The mental notes gleaned 
from the careful analyses should accompany any 
judgments of the effects of colors if progress is 
to be made. 

It is quite helpful in any application of color 
to be acquainted with the chief phenomena of 
color and, therefore, a few of these will be de- 
scribed briefly. - After a color has been v iewed 
for nnmo timr nri d then is suddenly re placed by 
a Tipintrfi l gray ^n outline of the original color 
is seen on the gray ground, but of a hue approx- 
Ima fely complementary to the original. This 
phenomenon is called an af ter-iipage and is per- 
haps due to fatigue in the visual process. ^^^^JjST 
exa mple, if a bright green object be fixated for a 



* 



few seconds and the eyes be then suddenl y 
f nrnpfl f.nwf^rrl ^ neutral grav paper, a pink 
image of the object wi ll be found to persist . 
This phenomenon would be explained on the 
basis of the three-color theory of color- vision by 
assuming that the *^ green '* process, or set of 
** nerves,'' was fatigued so that on viewing the 
gray paper, which stimulated the three proc- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 165 

esses, red, green, and blue, the ** green'' process 
was incapable of responding as fully as the 
* ' red ' ' and ^ * blue ' ' processes with the result that 
there was an excess of red and blue sensations 
over the green sensation. Consequently, the 
after-image appeared to be an unsaturated pur- 
ple or pink in color. This phenomenon is quite 
apparent to the careful observer under many 
conditions encountered daily. 
^ It is well-known that the various colored sen- 
s ations do not rise to their full value at equal 
rf^tes nnr do thpy dpc^y at equal rate s.^ The 
facts that they do not rise to full value or de- 
cay to zero instantly and that their individual 
rates differ are of great interest in many cases. 
These effects are shown by swiftly moving col- 
ored objects. For example, this phenomenon 
can be demonstrated by placing a red square at 
the center of a larger blue-green square and 
moving this combination with a moderate mo- 
tion at an arm's length under a fairly dim light, 
keeping the eyes fixated at a point near the 
middle of the path. The red square appears to 
shake like jelly because its image lags some- 
what behind its proper place in the visual field. 
This phenomenon can be readily demonstrated 
by moving the image of a black and white pat- 



166 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

tern over the retina at a certain speed. Fech-j 
ner's disks strikingly demonstrate this interest 
in^ feature of color-vision. 

Experiments have shown that the color-sensa- ^ 
tions overshoot their final values immediately 
after the presentation of the color stimuli. 
Blue overshoots the most, red next, and of thesejl 
three, the green sensation is the most sluggishi 
This order also approximately represents thai 
relative rapidity of the growth and decay of: 
these color-sensations, blue being most rapid^ 
and green the slowest. The fact that colors can 
be mixed, as far as sensation is concerned, by 
rotating them on disks above a certain critical 
frequency is ample proof that color-sensations 
do not instantly rise to full value immediately 
upon the presentation of the stimuli and do not 
decay to zero at the instant that the stimuli are 
removed. The critical frequency at which the 
colors upon a rotating disk blend in the visual 
process varies with the hue, saturation, and! 
brightness of the colorsj 

Another interesting 'fact which is connected 
with the foregoing is that of adaptation of the!|^^ 
visual process to color. In general all sensa- 
tions of brightness tend toward a middle gray 
and those of color tend toward neutrality. For ^ 
example, if one works under red light for some ai^ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 167 

time the saturation of the color seems to de- 
crease and he becomes less conscious of the 
color. In a similar manner, colors of very high 
brightness appear to be less saturated than un- 
der a moderately low illumination. In accord- 
ance with this fact the artist paints a red object, 
illuminated by intense sunlight, orange or 
iorange-red in color. 

) The greatest phenomenon which overshadows 
lall others in importance in our everyday en- 
pounters with colors is that of contrast, for its 
omnipresence is responsible for most of our en- 
joyment of color. For the sake of analysis, it 
can be separated into hue and brightness con- 
ti^asts. Little was known about the practical 
importance of these phenomena until the elab- 
orate experiments and observations of Chev- 
reul, the color expert of the famous Gobelins, 
nearly a century ago. Since that time these 
aspects of color have been given a great deal 
of attention by scientists and several laws have 
been established. 

The contrast-effect is always in the direction 
of greatest opposition. For example, white 
and black, when juxtaposed, mutually influence 
each other so that the white appears brighter 
and the black appears darker. If red and green 
are juxtaposed, the red appears redder than 



168 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

when viewed amid neutral surroundings of ap- 
proximately the same brightness and similarly 
the green appears greener. If a gray patch is 
surrounded by a certain color, the smaller gray 
patch no longer appears uncolored but assumes 
a tint usually approximately complementary to 
the surrounding color. This is called an in- 
duced color. For example, if the surrounding 
color be green, the induced color of the central 
gray patch is pink. This induced color is most 
striking when the inducing color is highly sat- 
urated and when the gray is of a brightness] 
about equal to that of the inducing color. This 
reduces the effect of brightness contrast to a 
minimum otherwise the brightness contrast may 
play a conspicuous part and, in some cases, may 
tend to veil the effect of induced color. 

The contrast-effects are a function of the 
nearness of the different colors to each other; 
that is, the nearer together the greater is the'^' 
contrast-effect. If the colors are juxtaposed' 
without any dividing line of black or other color' ^' 
the mutual effect of the two colors is greatest.!^' 

Hue contrast is most evident when the satura- ^ 
tions of the colors are greatest. It has been P 
contended by some observers that the cold col-p^ 
ors, namely, those near the blue end of the spec-r^ 
trum, produce stronger contrast-effects thaii||'^D 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 169 

the warmer colors. The author is not convinced 
that this is true. It is difficult to assign a su- 
periority to any particular part of the spectrum 
because of the great difficulty in controlling the 
different variables in actual experiment in order 
to reach definite conclusions. It would not be 
surprising to find the warmer colors more ef- 
fective than blue in producing strong contrasts 
jbecause, as a general rule among the colors or- 
dinarily encountered, the reds and yellows are 
pdore saturated than the blues. 

In this chapter the chief phenomena of color 
have been briefly discussed. These and many 
combinations of them are of extreme importance 
in the use and observation of color. It has been 
seen that there are many elements to be con- 
sidered from the various viewpoints of physics, 
physiology, and psychology. The physical as- 
pects are associated with the production of 
color ; the other aspects are found in vision and 
in the accompanying effects of color upon the 
human organism. A visual impression is **the 
starting-point for a whole hierarchy of mental 
reactions'' and its importance is further Em- 
phasized by Miinsterberg who states that **each 
time our perceptions and apperceptions, our 
feelings and our attention, our imagination and 
our will are involved.'' 



170 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

In attempting to analyze the effect or impres- 
sion of color on the human organism, many fac- 
tors must be considered. In fact, this is a prob- 
lem for the trained psychologist. However, 
there is no reason why any person, with a mod- 
erate understanding of color and an ability to 
analyze, xjannot add considerable to his own 
knowledge of the psychological effects of color 
if he exercises careful and analytical observa- 
tion. 

Space will not permit an extensive discussion 
of the psychological aspects involved, however, 
it appears essential to note two general posi- 
tions which color occupies with respect to con- 
sciousness. In one case it occupies the focus 
of attention and in the other case it does not 
although it still is influential. For example, a 
color arrangement may be so closely studied and 
the thoughts be so given over to the considera- 
tion of color that the surroundings, especially if 
they are not unusual as to color, will be quite 
lacking in an appreciable influence upon the 
mind. However, in another case the environ- 
ment may be of such a nature that one is pleas- 
antly or unpleasantly conscious of it, especially 
if the object upon which the attention is fo- 
cussed is not impelling enough to suppress the 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 171 

influence of the environment. The so-called 
sub-conscious element must alwavys be consid- 
ered from the viewpoint of analysis, as a more 
or less dormant power capable at any time of in- 
jecting into the situation ung^pected influences 
which modify the judgmentf For example, the 

^ warm colors are predominamly stimulating but 
they may be either agreeable or disagreeable. 
The cold colors are predominantly restful but 
they may be either agreeable or disagreeable. 
Association, appropriateness, etc., determine 
their agreeableness, but these g^erally operate 
through the sub-consciousness7/1)y 

Few persons are familiar wrffi the meanings 
of various terms that must be used in analyzing 
and in discussing the psychological effects of 
color so that it may be profitable to present a 
few of these as defined by various psychologists. 
Sensation, A sensation is a simple fact of 
consciousness which is referred to some definite 
sense-organ. Yerkes states, ** There are three 
ways of classifying sensations or of arranging 
them. (1) According to their degree of psy- 
chological likeness. (2) According to the bod- 
ily organs (sense-organs) to which they are re- 

' f erred. (3) According to the kind of stimulus 
which gives rise to them. ' ' The first is the most 



172 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

valuable for strictly psychological purposes be- 
cause it takes account of the psychological pe- 
culiarities of the things to be classified. 

Feeling. Feelings are usually classified into 
four varieties, namely, sense-feelings, emotions, 
sentiments, and volitions. The qualities given 
by various psychologists to the feelings are as 
follows : 



WUNDT 



ROYCE 



TiTCHENER 



Agreeableness 

Disagreeableness 

Excitement 

Quiescence 

Tension 

Relaxation 



Pleasantness 
Unpleasantness 
Restlessness 
Quiescence 



Pleasantness 
Unpleasantness 



The following properties are given by vari- 
ous psychologists as common to all sensations. 

Angell Baldwin MirNSTEEBEBG Titchener Wundt 



Quality 
Intensity 


Quality 
Intensity 

Tone 


Quality 
Intensity 
Vividness 
Value 


Quality 

Intensity 

Clearness 


Quality 
Intensity 


Duration 


Duration 


Duration 







Extensity 





















Affection, An affection is a simple fact of 
consciousness which pervades the whole body. 
According to Yerkes **We sense and we feel.; 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 173 

The former variety of experiences yield us our 
thousands of qualities of sensation and the lat- 
ter a multitude of simple facts which the psy- 
chologist calls affections." A prominent dif- 
ference between a sensation and an affection is 
that the former is associated with a sense-organ 
and the latter is referred to the body as a whole. 
Sight, pain, and taste are associated with the 
sense-organs but affections are not. Feelings 
such as agreeableness, quiescence, and excite- 
ment exist as a condition of the whole body. 

Emotion. Psychologists describe emotion as 
an affective complex. It is more complex than 
a sense-feeling. When the cognitive aspect 
dominates an experience is said to be an idea, or 
a perception but when the affective aspect is 
predominant the same general experience is 
called a feeling or an emotion. Emotions are 
associated with perceptions or memory experi- 
ences and might be considered strong-feelings. 
The different grades of emotions might be 
termed mood, weak emotion, strong emotion, 
and passion. Corresponding to these different 
grades respectively, we might experience won- 
der, surprise, astonishment, amazement ; or an- 
other example might be kindliness, friendliness, 
liking, love. 

Sentiment, An emotion which is attached to 



174 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

a particular object is called a sentiment. For 
example, a person may have a sentiment for 
his alma mater. Sentiments have been vari- 
ously classified as ethical, esthetic, intellectual 
and religious although opinions may differ re- 
garding this classification. 

Volition. According to Wundt, an emotion 
together with its result is a volitional process. 
A person may be astonished and forthwith he 
thinks or acts. The combination constitutes a 
volition. 

Association. This is perhaps fairly well un- 
derstood but definitions will be incorporated be- 
cause of the great importance of association in 
the effects of color. Dunlap says: ** Associ- 
ation is the organization of experience by virtue 
of which the various kinds and part of content 
constitute a whole ; it is the functional intercon- 
nection of the objects of experience as we find 
them ; not a force or an activity. The statement 
of the principles or laws of association is by no 
means an explanation of anything, but simply a 
convenient summary of observed facts.'' Ac- 
cording to Titchener : * * The law of association 
is that all connections between sensations which 
are set up by the formation of perceptions and 
ideas tend to persist, even when the original 
connections are no longer fulfilled.'' Yerkes 



THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 175 

says: ** Association means that mental proc- 
esses are related to one another instead of being 
isolated and relatively independent. They tend 
to rnn together without losing their identity; 
they become associated." 

Concerning associations Thorndyke says: 
*^The likelihood that any mental state or act 
will occur in response to any situation is in pro- 
portion to the frequency, recency, intensity, and 
resulting satisfaction of its connection with that 
situation or some part of it and with the total 
frame of mind in which the situation is felt. ' ' 

Psychologists attempt to classify associations 
but it does not appear necessary here to devote 
the space required for such a discussion. By 
analyzing his own experiences the reader will 
be able to discern various types. 

In presenting these definitions the author 
does not assume the burden of defending them 
because psychologists are not in complete agree- 
ment regarding many of these phases of their 
science. It is believed that the definitions are suf- 
ficiently clear and comprehensive for the pres- 
ent purpose. Surely if the use of these various 
terms be in accordance with the foregoing brief 
descriptions a long step will have been taken 
toward clearness of expression. It is with this 
hope that the material has been incorporated. 



COLOR PREFERENCE 

TH]^ consideration^ of color preference must 
Jb e divided into two~parfs, namely, th e 
preference of co1orR.Jnflnejice d as little as pos - 
sible_ by associati on^ environment, and other 

flpfnrs^ nnd flip prpfprpnnp nf polnr^ a^g_gjgpp<?WI 
Jbvjt he ordinary environmen t a of ever yday life . 
Data of the first kind are obtained from experi- 
ments with colors amid neutral and uninterest- 
ing surroundings upon subjects especially in- 
structed to eliminate associations insofar as it 
is possible and to choose the colors for ** color's 
sake'' alone. Data of the other kind are ob- 
tained by merely observing the colors which are 
used under various conditions in decoration, in 
dress, etc., and at the same time obtaining other 
information which is obviously of consequence. 
Such data are difficult to analyze notwithstand- 
ing the ease with which they are obtained be- 
cause of the many uncontrolled factors which 
are influential. However, it is a fact revealed 
by observation that the warmer tints and shades 
are used more generally than the colder ones 
for the decoration of large interior areas. It is 

176 



i 



I 

THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 177 

quite possible that this custom has a isen from 
the desire to counteract, to some degree, the 
coldness of daylight. 

Most interiors are considered, unconsciously 
at least, to afford protection to us and doubtless 
the use of warmer tints is a natural sequence 
of the desire to make the interior cheerful. It 
is to be noted that, in the natural expression of 
refined taste, tints and shades are more favored 
than the purer colors. It is true that pure 
colors are used but only sparingly as compared 
with tints and shades. In a sense, the limited 
use of the purer colors can be justified by con- 
sidering that their chief function is one of em- 
phasis. Although not an invariable rule, it is 
certain that something of an individuaPs nature 
or degree of refinement can be interpreted by 
observing the colors with which he chooses to 
surround himself. Closely akin to this pre- 
dominant use of warmer tints and shades in 
interiors is the widely prevalent idea that arti- 
ficial illuminants in interiors, devoted largely to 
i^ocial purposes, must be of a warm yellowish 
tinge. Perhaps this habit is the result of a sub- 
conscious association of the light with the cheer- 
fulness and protection afforded by the primeval 
campfire, but more likely it is merely the insist- 
ence of habit resulting from associating a warm 



178 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

yellowish* !olor with all the artificial illuminants 
of the past. 

These facts and many others closely related 
must be considered, but from the viewpoint of 
the language of color, the preference of color for 
color's sake alone is of chief interest. Eventu- 
ally, the view may be extended, but in the pres- 
ent rudimentary stage and with the aim of in- 
terpreting the language of color the discussion 
and experimentation must be confined chiefly to . 
the effects of color alone as far as possible. In 
passing it may be observed that Nature employs 
a relatively small amount of pure color. Even 
the glorious sunsets are devoid of pure colors, 
all the beautiful effects arising from ever-chang- 
ing combinations of tints and shades. Many of 
the beautiful scenes in Nature are painted 
chiefly with tints and shades, although here and 
there slight amounts of fairly pure color lend 
emphasis by contrast. In the fleeting and 
casual glance of most observers the beauty of 
Nature's color is unseen i3wing to this lack of 
great areas of pure color/*^^ It appears that most 
persons ordinarily do not observe color unless 
it is present in relatively large areas and of 
fairly high purity or unless the contrast is strik- 
ing such as in the case of a yellow or red flower 
amid a large area of green f oliag^ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 179 

The results of investigations of color prefer- 
ence from the other viewpoint, namely that in 
which the influence of all other factors besides 
color itself is minimized, are relatively more 
definite owing to the relative simplicity of this 
aspect. That is, when the object is to obtain 
results that are definite and capable of being 
quite thoroughly analyzed, laboratory experi- 
ments upon a large number of observers suffice 
and these are readily controlled. Of course, 
there always remains the question as to how 
completely the influences of association, habit, 
environment, etc., have been eliminated, but the 
consistency of the results obtained by various 
careful investigators is a favorable indication 
that data obtained from such experiments are 
valuable. Definite data have been obtained for 
various aspects of the problems of color prefer- 
ence confronting us and the experiments are 
constantly being extended into the vast un- 
jknowTi of the psychology of color. Some of the 
results will be presented with brief discussions 
and interpretations. It is recognized that the 
latter may not always be tenable as new data are 
unearthed but the intention here is to complete 
the chain of evidence as it exists at present 
which points toward a language of color. 
( It has been quite conclusively established that 



180 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

fairly pure colors are more highly preferred 
than colors of lower saturation and of lower 
luminosity ; that is, admixture of white or black 
(in the case of pigments) lowers the preference 
of a color. In other words, pure colors, in gen- 
eral, rank higher in the preference order than 
tints and shades. The rank of tints relatively 
to shades in general has not been definitely as- 
certained. Bradford, in experimenting with 
twenty-six university students with a set of fif- 
teen colored papers, found that saturated colors 
were most preferred and that the admixture of 1 
a small percentage of another color lowered the | 
position of the color in the preference order. 
He also found that the preference order re- 
mained fairly constant for individuals by re- 
peating the same experiments on three observ- 
ers after the lapse of one year. Cohn, the 
author, and others have also arrived at the con- 
clusion that, in general, pure colors are more 
highly preferred than tints and shades when 
other influences are minimized. It will be noted 
that this conclusion is apparently contradicted 
by the ordinary usage of color in daily life, but 
it must be remembered that in the latter case the 
conditions are complex. Although other data 
are available the foregoing points are well 
exemplified in the results of color preference 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 181 



experiments on 115 male and 121 female college 
students, the data having been furnished to the 
author by Prof. Mabel C. Williams. These 



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Fig. 1. Showing total number of times each color was pre- 
ferred by 115 male students. 



data were obtained by the method of paired 
comparisons. Colored papers were compared 
in pairs upon a neutral background, there being 
a total of 18 colored papers, comprisijig-.-a-Jiat 
a shade, and a fairly pure color of 6 different 



182 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



hues. By this method each of the 18 colors was 
compared with every other color, the observer! 
recording his choice in the case of each pair. 




0, V, Y X G, G Gt B, 6 6, V, 

Fig. 2. Showing total number of times each color was pr 
f erred by 121 female students. 

Each color therefore came under the subject' 
observation 17 times. A summary of the tot 
first choices for the different colors indicate 
the relative rank of the various colors. Tt 
results were reduced by the author durin 



[ 



I 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 183 



which process a few uncertain cases were dis- 
carded. In Fig. 1 are plotted the total num- 
ber of choices of each color by the 115 young 





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pen. Similar results are showTi for the 121 
pung women in Fig. 2, and the total choices 
pfor men and women — are shown in Fig. 3. 
t will be noted that in the case of the men the 
mre colors are very definitely preferred to the 



[ 



184 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

shades and tints as indicated by the peaks. 
The pure colors (as pure as obtainable by meang 
of pigments) are indicated on the horizonta' 
scale by the initial letters, R, Y, etc. ; the tints 
by a subscript t as Rt*, and the shades by th^); 
subscript s, as Rg. In the case of the youn^ 
women, Fig. 2, the peaks are not so well defined! 
however, a similar conclusion is tenable. Th(i 
yellow shade was the least preferred of all thf; 
colors. It will be noted that the tints of yellovi 
and orange so commonly employed in interiori 
are among the least favored in experiments o 
color preference where the colors are chosei 
largely for color's sake alone. 

An inspection of the three illustrations wil 
reveal the results more clearly than further dig 
cussion; however, it is interesting to note thi 
summary presented in the following tabU 
There are many limitations to the applicatia 
of mathematics to such problems; but it aj 
pears safe to summarize the total choices c ' 
tints, shades, and pure colors for the sake c|*^ 
drawing further conclusions of a general nature ^ 
The number of times that tints, shades and pui 
colors were chosen are given separately for tl 
men and for the women. The total number ( 
choices are also presented. 



ji 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 185 



Summary of Choices Registered for Tints, Shades and 

Pure Colors 



Choices 
BY 115 Males 



Total 



Average 



Choices 
BY 121 Females 



Total 



Average 



Choices by Both 



Total 



Average 



Tints , 

iShades . . . 
Pure colors. 



4906 
5064 
7399 



42.7 
44.0 
64.2 



5977 
5378 
6836 



49.3 
44.5 
56.5 



10883 
10442 
14235 



46.0 
44.3 
60.4 



(xV better comparison is obtained by comput- 
,i ing the average number of choices per observer 
for each of the three kinds of colors. These 
are given in the remaining columns. For ex- 
ample, the average number of times tints were 
more preferred than the other colors, was for 
[ men, 42.7, for women, 49.3, and for both com- 
bined, 46, the latter being a simple mean. In 
each column of average choices the sum should 

Equal 153 because there are 153 different com- 
inations, of two each, obtainable with 18 colors. 
However, in no case is this true owing to the 
necessity of discarding a few choices owing to 
very obvious errors. It is^-^^enJMt-ilifiJints 
were somewhat mgrfi preferred by thej^^gmen' 
than l^y- the niBnrb«t4h£jc£^\:a£sejs true for the 
purercolors. Shades were aboutequally^Te- 
^erred bythife men and by the women. The sum- 
mary of average choices in the last column show 



186 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOE 

clearly that the purer colors are most preferred 
and little difference exists between the tints and 
shades. This result is in accord with that of 
others as previously noted. 

The foregoing represents only one of the| 
many interesting problems of color preference.| 
Another important question to be answered is 
the relative rank in the preference order of col- 
ors of equal purity as ordinarily determined.] 
From a general experience with color and from 
observation of the general attitude of many per- 
sons toward colors, the author was led to the 
conclusion that, for fairly pure colors at least, j 
jl ^e colors near the ends of the spectrum ar^ 
generally more preferred for color ^s sake alo ne i 
tha n those near the middle . Another viewpoint, 
would be that the more luminous of the spectral | 
colors are less preferred than those of lower 
reflection factors. Experiments of others indi- 
cated that this conclusion was tenable but no 
data were available which had been obtained 
with a large number of colors of approximately 
the same degree of saturation. T^erefore_a_^t 
of 15 fairly pure colored p a pers was u^ d.. 
fljnnTig which were three colors of appr oxi- 
mately the same saturation but which would 15e 
classed as shades, namely, a dull yellow-green, 
a dull green, and a slate blue-gray. Fifteen ob- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 187 

servers were used and they were instructed to 
choose the colors for ^ ^ color 's sake ' ^ alone. The 
colored papers, each 4 inches square, were 



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obcdefghkiq^^Qpcn 
OeSlGMAtlOM OF COLORtD PAPERS 



Fig. 4. Showing preference order of fairly saturated colors 
under daylight illumination, D. ; under tungsten lamp illumi- 
nation, T. 

spread upon a white surface, each color being 
kept at some distance from the others. These 
were mixed haphazardly several times while the 
observer studied them for a few minutes. He 
then began to pick them out in the order of 
preference. The mean order of preference for 






188 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

the 15 subjects is presented in curve D, Fig. 4, 
for daylight illumination and in curve T when 
the colored papers were illuminated by incan- 
descent tungsten lamps. The two observations 
were made by a given subject at intervals not 
less than several days apart. It is seen that 
for these conditions the colors near the middle 
of the spectrum are less preferred than those 
at the extremes. A few experiments under the 
same conditions, except that the white back- 
ground was replaced by black, indicated the 
same general results although slight differences 
no doubt would have been observed if sufficient 
data had been obtained. For pure colors, how- 
ever, it appears that the results would be quite 
similar with various neutral backgrounds. ;| 

Inasmuch as the appearances of colors are 
very much influenced by the illuminant, the two 
different illuminants were used. It is not sur- 
prising, however, that, with fairly pure colors, 
the same general results were obtained in these 
two cases. By using a large number of ob- 
servers and a greater number of colors it would 
be surprising if the results under the two il- 
luminants did not differ considerably, especially 
with less saturated colors. Many interesting 
points remain to be investigated although a few 
general conclusions can be drawn from the data 



THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 189 

at present available. It will be noted that the 
author ^s results described above are confirmed 
by the data presented in Figs. 1, 2 and 3. 

Minor devised an experiment to test the rela- 
tive preference for saturated over unsaturated 
colors using colored circles one meter in di- 
ameter. He used seven colored gelatine plates, 
from violet to red, in a projection lantern, thus 
projecting the large circle of colored light upon 
a white screen. He used three degrees of sat- 
uration but kept the brightness constant. The 
reactions were to be immediate without reflec- 
tion or comparison and the judgments were to 
be expressed in the five following terms: very 
pleasing, pleasing, indifferent, displeasing, very 
displeasing. The subject was then questioned 
regarding associations, feelings, and judgment 
processes. Saturated colors were in each case 
found to be more preferred than unsaturated 
colors. As might be expected the judgment was 
found to be influenced by the pleasingness of 
the colors themselves, the bodily conditions, the 
mental state, and by associations. 

Somewhat contradictory to these results, 
Washburn and her students found on compar- 
ing colored papers 5 cm. square with others 25 
cm. square that saturated colors were preferred 
in the smaller area, except saturated red. In 



190 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 

the larger area, tints and shades were preferred. 
It is dangerous to draw many conclusions with- 
out a greater amount of data, but it appears 
plausible that the saturated colors were only- 
preferred in the smaller area when it is con- 
sidered that such is the most common usage of 
saturated colors by Nature and by mankind. If 
our tastes have been molded by Nature or are i 
indicated by our artificial environment it is not 
surprising that even in a laboratory experiment 
the purer colors would be preferred in the 
smaller area and the tints and shades in much 
larger areas. It is well to note that the absolute 
dimensions are of little moment as compared 
with the solid angle subtended by the colored 
object. The latter is determined by the distance 
from the eye to the object as well as the absolute 
size of the object in ordinary vision. According 
to Washburn and Crawford, when colors are 
iixated for one minute the arousal of associa- 
tions and adaptations may change the affective 
value. They claim that associations have little 
influence on saturated colors and what they have 
is favorable. It appeared from their results 
that adaptation was favorable to violet, blue 
and green, unfavorable to yellow and red, and 
on the whole unfavorable to tints and shades. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 191 

Associations were favorable to tints and to 
shades of violet, green, orange and red. 
Jastrow, at the WoTM's^Fair_in_1893, tested 

^ M me iT anJ women for color pref e rppfip "^nrl 
•^undjjlie^to he preeminently the fa yi)rite color 
for men and red for women. This is confirmed 

"Tii J^^igs. 1 and 2. Starch tested 133 pei'j^onii— 
69 men and 64 women — using ten Hering col- 
ors on a white ground including approxima- 
tions to nine spectral colors and a purple. The 
results indicated that the colors near the ends 
of the spectrum in general were most preferred. 
Red and blue ranked highest for both men and 
women although blue was slightly more pre- 

I ferred by the men and red more preferred by 

kthe women. 

Wissler tested the color preference of about 
300 men and women with similar results, that 
is, blue ranked first for men with red next. Red 
was the favorite for the women. The colors 
near the middle of the spectrum ranked con- 
siderably lower in the preference order than the 
colors near the extremes of the spectrum. Yel^ 
lo w ranked lower than ^ Ij other ^nlnra imohicWng. 
w ETte although the latter was next to Y^ llgw^in 
the prefer ence order. Orange was third from 
thelSiottom and gre en next above it. Thus~it 



192 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR , 

is seen thatiiisofar.g,s the variousi nvestip:ation §_ 
havejgr oceecled fairly c onsiatent and there fore 
reasona bly conclusive results have been ob- 
tgined in m ost cases^ Unfortunately pure speo- 
'trSTcoIorsliave not been used in such experi- 
ments. 

This, in brief, is the status of our knowledge 
of color preference as it exists at present. Many 
other data could Idc presented and discussed, but 
for the sake of brevity many of the contribu- 
tions of other investigators have been omitted 
although they have been influential in the dis- 
cussion already presented. Discussions of vari- 
ous aspects of the influence of color are pre- 
sented in other chapters. 



AFFECTIVE VALUE OF COLORS 

IT is possible for every visual impression to 
be a cause of a mental reaction although it 
is obvious that the effectiveness of visual stimuli 
in this respect is largely dependent upon the 
state of intellectual development of the individ- 
ual. It seems likely to depend upon the ability 
of the individual to observe and to react. In 
dealing with the present subject it is of direct 
interest only to consider the affective value of 
colors upon normal individuals of at least aver- 
age mental ability and intellectual development. 
In many of the previous chapters various sub- 
jects have been treated for the purpose of ob- 
taining a view of the various factors which have 
been influential in molding our present attitude 
toward colors. It has been seen that the psy- 
chology of color is indeed complicated not only 
by the past experiences of the individual but also 
by the superstitions, habits, and experiences of 
a long line of ancestors extending far back into 
the early childhood of the human race. How- 
ever, after presenting brief discussions of many 
of these factors it appears of interest to discuss 
the results obtained with normal intellectual 

193 



194 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

subjects upon the affective values of colors. 
Unfortunately the knowledge of the psychology 
of the affective processes is in a very unsatis- 
factory and unsettled state. The physics of 
color is well established, but this is not true of 
the physiology and of the psychology of color. 
There is a vast amount of data available which 
bears upon the physiological aspects of color, 
but many of the experimental results are as yet 
unreconcilable with each other or with any gen- 
eral theory of color-vision. The psychology of 
color is even in a more chaotic state, and owing 
to the meagerness of the data bearing upon this 
aspect it is almost an unexplored unknown. 
However, there are data available which are of 
extreme interest from the viewpoint of the lan- 
guage of color. 

/It is to be expected that there will be very 
y€j)nspicuous differences among individuals be- 
' cause each has acquired so many and so varied 
emotional and sentimental attitudes toward 
colors. Individual experience and temperament 
are very important factors which are responsi- 
ble for variations among individuals, however, 
a general consistency is usually perceptible in 
psychological experiments with colors provided 
sufficiently large groups of subjects are used/ 
Many difficulties arise when the attempt is made 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 195 

to interpret the experimental results upon the 
affective values of colors because the affective 
processes are so little understood and the ex- 
perimental methods are not wholly satisfactory^ 
However, these difficulties will not be considered 
ingresenting data which will be of interest here. 

[The variety of brightness and color sensations 
wTTtch is experienced by the individual depends 
upon the state of his visual development. He 
observes what his previous experience has pre- 
pared him to observe. Psychologists state that 
the affective value of a visual sensation is the 
result of the affective tone of the sensation, of 
the affective elements of consciousness, and of 
the sentiments and emotions which are as- 
sociated^ with the visual experienceH For in- 
stance^ a certain color may be pleasmg because 
it has an agreeable affective tone but another 
color may be pleasing because it is accompanied- 
by a pleasant emotion although its affective tone 
might not be pleasing/ 

(It would be advamageous in such studies to 
separate the effects of hue from those of lumi- 
i osity or brightness, but this is in general very 
difficult) From a series of neutral grays ex- 
tending from white to black an individual will 
usually choose certain grays that are agreeable 
to him. These are usually near the middle of 



196 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

the series. In other words, neither white nor 
black would be chosen as the most agreeable 
generally. / It should be borne in mind that the 
brightnesses are chosen as most agreeable not 
for their absolute values but for their values 
relative to those associated with them. It is 
also certain that colors are accompanied to a 
greater extent than grays by sentiments, emo- 
tions, and affective elements of consciousness. 
//The purer colors are, in general, more agree- 
able than the slightly saturated colors, although 
it is contended by some that green and violet 
reach their highest degree of agreeableness 
when not of greatest purity^These conclusions , 
of course are drawn f rom^^xperiments in which 
the effects of environment and other external, 
factors are simplified and minimized as far as 
possible. The discussion of color preference i 
another chapter is of interest here. 

The data available are in quite complete 
agreement that the so-called warm colors, red, 
orange and yellow, are stimulating or exciting 
in varying degree from a maximum for red 
(scarlet) to a less degree for the yellow. Green 
is fairly neutral in this respect, blue produces a 
grave mood-reaction and violet a similar one 
which might be described as solemn. Consider- 
ing the colors in the spectrum it is seen that 






;e( 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 197 

there is a definite variation from red to violet 
and it is generally agreed that both extremes of 
the spectrum and combinations of these — the 
purples — produce fairly neutral or tranquil 
mood-affections. This is quite in agreement 
with general experience. 

It is certain that different colors stimulate 
various mood-affections especially powerfully 
in those who possess fine sensibilities. It is of 
interest to note the description of the affective 
values given to various colore and as an example 
the following analysis b^N. A. Wells of the 
effects of color upon himself is presented: 

Crimson, or deep red with a trace of blue in 
it, when standing alone, or seen in large quantity 
jalways gave him vague impressions of passion, 
rage, blood, etc. 

Scarlet, or red with a trace of yellow — the 
blare of trumpets. 

Deep orange, the heat of flame; soon excites 
irritation to a feeling of suffocation. 

Orange-yellow, warm, glowing, lively. 

Yellow, joyous, gay, merry. 

Yellow-green, cheerful, smiling. 

Green, peaceful, neither sad nor cheerful. 

Blue-green, sedate, sober. 

Blue, cool tranquillity. 

Violet-blue, stern, hard, unyielding, gloom. 



198 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Violet, subduing, serious to the point of mel- 
ancholy. 

Purple, stately, pompous, impressive. 

It is certain that few persons would exactly 
agree in analyzing their mood-reactions to a 
similar series of colors but there are indications 
that an approximate agreement would be found 
quite general. It is interesting to note the in- 
fluence of association with certain colors and to 
conjecture upon this influence with other colors? 
in the foregoing list. 

A number of investigators have studied the 
affective value of colors with large groups of 
subjects and certain general facts have been 
established. It appears to be most profitable toil 
present the procedure and results of a numberif 
of investigations because a broader view will b 
be thus obtained. • , p| 

"Wells has experimented with large groups ofi[)] 
subjects consisting of both men and women. Hef'tK 
used the twelve colors whose mood-reactions|i| 
upon himself have already been presented. Thej 
colors were painted with aniline dyes to as full 'o 
saturation as possible upon white water-color )f 
paper. Two-inch squares of these colors .were p] 
mounted about thiT^fe inches apart in a horizon-jfr 
tal row upon a large neutral gray background, jm 
The latter is preferable to white or black be-ln 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 199 

cause it avoids extreme brightness contrasts. 
Furthermore, such colors are usually of greatest 
power amid such an environment. The colors 
were arranged in their spectral order, thus 
minimizing the effects of simultaneous contrast. 
The color-chart was hung before the group of 
subjects and the following list of words was dis- 
played upon a blackboard : 



quiet 


exciting 


depressing 


peaceful 


sad 


solemn 


loud 


digtiified 


lively 


neutral 


heavy 


gloomy 


somber 


gay 


light or airy 


energetic 


restful 


cheerful 


noisy 


dainty 



The subjects were requested to write one of 
hese adjectives (or any other if they so desired) 
vhich expressed the feeling or mood suggested 
)y each color. All were cautioned not to em- 
)Ioy purely subjective descriptions, such as 
)leasant, unpleasant, agreeable or unagreeable, 
lecause it was not so much a question what they 
iked or disliked as why they liked or disliked. 

It will be noted that the adjectives in the 
oregoing list can be classed into three groups 
f energized, tranquilized, and subdued moods, 
^he replies are classified under these three 
roups in the following table in which a sum- 
mary of the results with 63 subjects — 32 men 
nd 31 women — are presented. 



200 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Tbtal Number of Replies from 63 Subjects Indicating Thre 
General Types of Mood-Reactions Due to the 
Twelve Different Colors 

Exciting Tranquilizing Subduing 

influence influence influenc 

Crimson 41 Sf 10 ;2 

Scarlet 56 "^f ' 

Deep Orange 59 ^^ OS 1 

Orange-yellow 55 /'^ 6/-2~ 

Yellow 53 '7<> 6 /-^ 

Yellow-green 14/5^ 39;^"-^ 5/^ 

Green 28 32 

Blue-green 32'^i 23J<^ 6 / 

Blue 11/5 21:5^" 30,?^ 

Violet-blue OV 17/i? 45,1 

Violet / 6e 54^ 

Purple 3j/^ ly 484- 

The subjects were college students scatter ec 
through the various colleges of engineering, 
science, literature and arts, and agriculture. 

The results indicated no great sex difference 
excepting in the blue-green, but seemed to in 
dicate that the development of color perceptioi 
is more complete among women than amon|] 
men. KThe hues in which red predominates in 
duce a mood-reaction of an exciting character 
This excitation began to appear for a few of th 
subjects with the purple, increased in strengtlg 
for crimson, became a maximum in the scarle 
and deep-orange, thence diminished until th* 
mood-reaction became one of tranquillity for tbi 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 201 

yellow-green. From this point there is a curi- 
ous rise toward excitement which becomes pro- 
nounced in the blue-green and gradually di- 
minishes in passing through the blue and violet- 
blue. It is interesting to note the contradictory 
nature of the replies for the-^44dl0'^r tranquil 
region of the series of color s. It seems that 
l;hese contradictions fimft^^evidence that the 
3olors in this region are not of sufficient affec- 
five energy to induce reactions of a definiie 
character in a large majority of sensibilitiesi 
I Wells believed that the combined stimulus of 
fill those colors which appeared to be respec- 
ively exciting, tranquilizing, or repressing in 
Effective character, would become cumulative if 
imultaneously presented. He therefore cut the 
iolor-chart vertically into three portions; the 
irst portion containing crimson, scarlet, deep- 
)range, orange, orange-yellow and yellow; the 
iecond portion, yellow-green, green, blue-green 
ind blue; and the third portion, blue-violet, 
iolet and purple. These portions were placed 
»n a blackboard ten feet apart so that when the 
iye rested upon one group the others were well 
utside the direct visual field. The same list of 
7ords was written upon the blackboard with 
he following list of qualifying adverbs in antici- 
iation of more powerful mood-reactions which 



202 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

might result from each group. The subjects 
were permitted to use any other qualifying 
words in describing the mood induced by each 
group. The additional words were : 



richly 


sadly 


tranquilly 


daintily 


sedately 


gayly 


impressively 


cheerfully 


pompously 


quietly 


gorgeously 


depressingly 



The results firmly supported the conclusions 
arrived at in the preceding investigation. 

It appears from this study ^Hhat a giveni 
sensory stimulus has, for normal sense-percep-- 
tions and under ordinary conditions, an affec- 
tive character which remains constant regard- 
less of any subjective attitude of the sensibili- 
ties toward that stimulus.'^ For example, the 
responses to scarlet were gay, noisy, exciting,! 
loud, energetic, etc. All of these indicate that: 
the affective character of scarlet is exciting re^ 
gardless of the subjective attitude toward it. 

Powelson and Washburn studied the effect of 
verbal suggestion on the affective values of; 
colors with 35 young women for subjects. The 
ninety Bradley colors were used, each color be^ 
ing 2.9 cm. square. These were shown one ai 
a time upon a white background to each subject, 
who was instructed to record a degree of pleas 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 203 

antness or unpleasantness using numbers from 
one to seven. * * Very pleasant ' ^ was designated 
by number one, * indifferent'' by 4, and very 
** unpleasant'' by 7. The colors from the 36th 
to the 54th in the series (the middle eighteen) 
were presented with an accompanying verbal 
suggestion as to their affective value. The ex- 
periment was performed twice on each subject 
several days apart. During the first experiment 
the verbal suggestions accompanying the middle 
18 colors were suggestions of unpleasantness for 
the first half of the observers and during the 
second sitting they were suggestions of pleas- 
Eintness for these observers. The other subjects 
j\vere treated reversely. The suggestions were 
iof the form of favorable or unfavorable; for 
^xample, the words * 'faded" or ** delicate" 
might be used in the two cases for a given color. 
Twenty-five subjects gave results indicating 
k positive effect of suggestion in altering the 
judgments of affective value and the remaining 
ten subjects gave indications of a negative in- 
fluence of verbal suggestion, that is, the judg- 
ments of the latter were altered in a direction 
opposite to the suggestion. Prom this it may 
38 concluded that direct verbal suggestion re- 
garding the pleasantness or unpleasantness of 



204 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

a color has a fairly decided positive effect on 
the judgments of observers of this type and 
under the conditions of the experiment. 

Bobbins, Smith and Washburn, using the 
same series of ninety colors, studied the in- 
fluence of fatigue on the affective sensitiveness 
to colors. The series was divided into four 
groups, A, B, C and D, the colors being selected 
at random for each group, but the colors of each 
group were always presented to the observer in 
the same order. Each color was laid on a whites 
ground before the subject and she was asked to 
judge its pleasantness or unpleasantness, using 
the numbers from 1 to 7 in expressing the de-i 
gree. The entire set of 90 colors was presented 
twice over at each sitting, the order of the sets 
being altered systematically. The order of the 
sets for the first sitting were ABCDBCDA, for 
the second sitting, BCDACDAB, and so on. It 
is thus seen that the element of fatigue would 
enter into two presentations of the series of 90 
colors at each sitting because the first group 
was also the last in the order of presentation. 

Without entering into the details of the in- 
vestigation the general results will be presented. 
Eighty-two young women were used as subjects. 
Only 31 per cent, stated that they were bored a1 
the end of the long series of 180 judgments^ 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 205 

Five of the 82 stated that they were more in- 
terested at the end than at the beginning. 
A.bout 35 per cent, of those who reported being 
Dored showed higher affective values toward 
:he end than for the same colors at the beginning 
and 65 per cent, showed lower values. Thus 

difference of 30 per cent, represented the 
:endency of the affective values to diminish as 
he result of ennui. Of those who reported 
bqual interest throughout the experiment 36 per 
3ent. gave an average affective value higher at 
:he end than at the first presentation and 56 per 
3ent. a lower value. The difference of 20 per 
sent, indicates the observers who, notwithstand- 
ng their failure to recognize ennui, showed a 
decrease in the average degree of pleasantness 
assigned to the colors at the end of the series. 
Other interesting analyses may be applied to 
the results but in general they indicate that, 
ander the conditions of the investigation, affec- 
tive sensibility to colors tends to diminish with 
ennui produced by a long series of judgments 
Dn the affective values of colors and that the 
decrease in affective sensibility is more closely 
correlated with the introspective reports of 
annul than is the average affective value of the 
colors. 

Washburn and Crawford have concluded that 



206 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

when colors are gazed upon steadily for one 
minute the arousal of associations and adapta- 
tion may change the affective value. Their re- 
sults indicated that associations have little in- 
fluence in altering the degree of pleasantness of 
saturated colors and what they have seems to be 
\/ favorable. Adaptation is favorable to violet, 
blue and green ; unfavorable to yellow and red.l 
Associations appeared to be favorable to tints 
and to shades of violet, green, orange, and red. 
Adaptation was on the whole unfavorable toi 
tints and shades. 

Geiger, using simple colors, concluded that 
the cheerfulness of a color was uniformly ex- 
perienced as a quality of the color and not as, 
a feeling of the subject. 

Bullough investigated the problem of color 
appreciation and divided it into two parts: (a), 
the *^ aspects of color," that is, their objective 
qualities; (b), the *^ perceptive types,'' that is, 
the classification of observers on the basis of 
the character of the aspects which influence 
them when viewing colors. He classified the 
** aspects of color'' into four groups, as follows : 

(1) Objective aspect. The remarks of the 
subjects refer to the peculiarities of a color such 
as saturation, delicacy, brightness, muddiness. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 207 

(2) Physiological aspect. This is indicated 
by certain effects on the subjects. 

(3) Associative aspect. This represents the 
suggestive power of a color. 

I (4) Character aspect. This includes the ex- 
pression by a color of that which, in the case of 
a human being would be considered his char- 
acter, mood, or temperament. This group rep- 
resents by far the most complex aspect of color 
appreciation. 

The ** perceptive types'' correspond to the 
main groups of color aspects and therefore the 
four terms noted above are also used for these. 
Bullough distinguishes between the ** agreeable" 
and the ** beautiful." When a color is agree- 
able we occupy the center but when it is beauti- 
ful the color occupies the focus of attention. In 
this plan of distinction the physiological type 
appears to be the type of lowest esthetic value. 
To subjects of this type colors are merely agree- 
able. The objective type occupy a position 
higher in the scale of esthetic values because of 
the greater importance of the color impression 
of these cases. Next above this type is that of 
rfused association" and the character type oc- 
cupies the highest ^point in the scale of esthetic 
values. The freedom of this type ' ' from purely 



208 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

1 
personal factors, from accidental memories and 

irrational associations, and its essentially emo- 
tional tone invest this type with a kind of objec- 
tive reality which is generally characteristic of 
esthetic experiences, and stamps this form of 
color appreciation as the esthetic appreciation 
par excellence.^ It appears that the greatest 
understanding'^d widest application of a lan- 
guage of color eventually must depend upon the 
development of this highest type. 




ATTENTION VALUE OF COLOKS 

UITE another aspect of color is f OAind on 
turning to the attention value. ^A color 
inay attract attention whether it is pleasing or 
not and the power of attraction doubtless is, 
to some extent, proportional to the degree of 
pleasantness or unpleasantness' Of course, 
such factors as novelty, unexpectedness, con- 
trast, congruity and others enter into the atten- 
tion value of colore/ Much of the data and dis- 
ussions presented throughout this treatise 
must be correlated and weighed before conclu- 
sions can be reached regarding the attention 
value of colors because experimental data are 
very meager. 

/Unusual or incongruous uses of colors doubt- 
ess attract the attention of more persons than 
my innate characteristics of colors. For in- 
stance, a red hat worn by a man would attract 
attention because of the novelty and incongruity 
Df the use of this color in such a case. This 
iccounts for many of the uses of colors on the 
itage, in advertising, etc. Contrast both in hue 
md in brightness plays a very important part 
in the power of colors in attracting attention. 

209 



Dj 



210 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

Few persons are conscious of colors if they dc )f 
not occupy extensive areas or if the contrast h 
not very striking A bright red or yellow flowei; 
amid dark green foliage will attract the attenijS] 
tion of persons who ordinarily would not notice 
these colors if the great contrast were absent 
unless the colors occupied a fairly large portioite 
of the visual field. fn 

Hue contrast is a very important factor ir 
the attention value and pleasing effect of col |e 
ors. If a group of colors be illuminated bji 
an illuminant whose spectrum extends over ci 
narrow range of wave-lengths the beauty of thei 
colors disappears. Under such conditions th4a 
colors are of approximately the same hue but] 
differ in brightness. Experiments such as thi^l^e 
impress upon one the conclusion that color? 
which are approximately complementary an 
likely to be the more striking combinations oiL 
colors. Doubtless there is an optimum relatioiiif 
between the brightness contrast and the hu4i 
contrast which renders a combination of tw( 
colors the most striking. This relation is per 
haps different for various colors. 

It appears that the reader may be able tcfc 
draw his own conclusions regarding the attenjl 
tion value of colors after correlating the datfnes 
presented in other chapters, however, a glimps<j pj 



}r 



ns 



r^ 



er 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 211 

f the data which are available may aid in gnid- 
ig him in his analysis. Therefore examples of 
be experimental data which have been obtained 
specially from this vie^vpoint will be presented. 
I Gale, by using a method of rapid exposure in 
resenting various colors to his subjects, be- 
eved that he thus separated the attention value 
:om the artistic value. In other words, he be- 
ieved that attention value is determined by a 
ery short exposure, whereas artistic value can 
b determined only by a sufficiently long ex- 
bsure during which the subject can form a 
idgment. This appears reasonable and at 
ast the artistic factor is reduced to a mini- 
bm and the attention value is doubtless fairly 
^ell determined. He exposed the colors for an 
^stant upon a white background. In the fol- 
^wing table is shown the number of times, N, 
ich color was noticed and also the percentage 
f the times each color was noticed of the total 
timber of times all colors were noticed. The 
ij;)jects consisted of nine men and seven women. 
'It is seen that, for ^^'^ w^^nlr* group of ob- 
irvers, the attention value of red is the highest 
ith black a close second and yellow the lowest^ 
he degrees of purity and the relative bright- 
esses of the colors are not available but it 
ppears safe to conclude that brightness con- 



212 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



Attention Value of Colors 



Color 



Men 



N 



Of, 



'fo 



Women 



N 



% 



Average 



% 



Black . 
Red . . , 
Orange 
Yellow 
Green , 
Blue ., 
Purple 



151 

88 
88 

4 

87. 
24 

8 



33.5 

19.5 

19.5 

0.8 

19.3 

5.3 

1.7 



43 
113 
38 
23 
6G 
38 
29 



12.2 
32.2 

10.8 

6.5 

18.8 

10.8 

8.2 



22.9 

25.9 

15.2 

3.7 

19.1 

8.1 

5.0 



trast is an important factor in attention value 
Both red and black are very low in luminosity 
as compared with the white background anc 
therefore the brightness contrasts in these tw< 
cases were very great. On the other hand 
yellow is of high luminosity and the contrast ii 
this case between the color and the white grounc 
would be much less than in the cases of blacl 
and reclj However, it is hardly possible tha 
brightness alone accounts for the results. It ii 
a matter of every-day experience that amon^ 
the common colors red always attracts attentioi 
quite markedly. 

/In the field of advertising the attention valu( 
of colors is important and therefore this fielc 
would yield interesting data if records wer< 
available. Starch has presented a tabulation o" 
colored advertisements appearing in vario 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 213 

magazines which showed that 77 per cent, used 
red ; 19 per cent, brown ; 8 per cent, blue ; 6 per 
cent, orange ; 6 per cent, green ; 6 per cent, yel- 
low; and 5 per cent, purple. These data show 
by the predominant use of red that at least ad- 
vertising men regard it of high attention valu^ 
It appears from ordinary observation that red 
is quite predominantly used in colored displays. 
The use of red as a universal signal for danger 
appears to be another wholesale admission of its 
attention value. 

Other factors enter into the acceptability of 
colors for attracting attention. Many colored 
advertisements are to be viewed under ordinary 
rtificial illuminants which are rich in red and 
range rays and poverty-stricken in blue and 
tiolet. i Thus red does not suffer under artificial 
jight but appears more brilliant and rich in hue 
than many other colors. On the other hand, 
blues and violets are robbed of much of their 
color and appear black, or nearly so, while 
yellow is very much washed out owing to the 
fact that the dominant hue of most artificial 
illuminants is yello's^ 

Starch has presented data which were ob- 
tained for the purpose of showing the power 
of color contrast. A white card containing 25 
words was exposed before a group of per- 



Black 


Re 


20 


5 


39 


78 


1.6 


3j 


8.2 


61 



214 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

sons for a brief interval. Twenty words werj 
printed in black and the remaining five in re( 
were scattered among the rest. Immediatel 
after the exposure each person recorded th| 
words that he had retained in his memory. Th 
following data were obtained with 24 subjects. 

Number of words exposed 

Total noticed by 24 persons 

Average number noticed per person.. 
Percentage noticed per person 

It is seen that the novelty or conspicuousnea 
of the red words intermingled with the ordina 
black words draws the attention predominantlj 
to the red ones. 

/Many mistakes are made in the employme 
or colored inks for the purpose of attracti 
the attention to important words or statemen 
apparently owing to a lack of knowledge 
simple facts of color science. For example, 
an advertising pamphlet the text was printe! 
predominantly with black ink upon a yellowis 
tinted paper. Here and there statements to I 
emphasized were printed with an orange in] 
Under ordinary artificial illumination thos 
statements printed with orange ink were large 
obliterated owing to the yellowish hue of tl] 
illuminant, with the result that a bad choice 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 215 

ink defeated the intended purpose quite com- 
pletely. Thus it is seen that even after the at- 
tention values of various colors have been de- 
termined other factors also must be considered 
or difficulties are likely to be encountered. 

It may be of interest here to note briejfly 
certain results on the legibility of various com- 
binations of colored printing reported in Le 
Coiirrier du Livre. It appears that the best 
combination for reading at a considerable dis- 
fence was black type on a yellow ground. The 
familiar black on white combination ranked 
sixth with the following combinations interven- 
ing in their order of legibility : green on white, 
red on white, blue on white, and white on blue. 
There is some indication that considerable con- 
trast in brightness is desirable but perhaps not 
extreme contrasts. Of course, various other 
factors, which cannot be discussed here, enter 
into the problem of legibility at a distance. 
This question is beyond the scope of this treatise 
but this brief comment has appeared of interest^ 



PART IV 



< 



ESTHETICS 

IF the language of color ever becomes definite 
enough and the understanding of it becomes 
sufficiently universal to encourage its applica- 
tion as an independent means of expression in- 
stead of as an accompaniment to more inter- 
pretable languages as it is used at present, it 
will not be used alone to express the beautiful 
but also the disagreeable and the unpleasant. 
At the present time color is used chiefly to 
beautify and by its harmonies to appeal to the 
esthetic instinct. It is true that it is not always 
employed as a drapery for enriching or beauti- 
fying visual impressions, however, our chief ac- 
quaintance with color is through its use in the 
arts, hoth purje a nd app lied. For this reason, 
we are inclined to relate color and beauty and 
most of our knowledge of the expressiveness of 
color gained from this source is, therefore, 
prejudiced by this natural association ; hence in 
prolonging this discussion of the language of 
color into the realm of art we must expect to 
gain whatever information is available from the 
esthetics and harmony of color. It is well that 
such is the case and we should hope that the aim 

219 



i 



220 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

of mankind in artistic creation will continue to 
be the introduction of the beautiful or idealistic 
into our environment. 

To obtain a proper perspective it is necessary 
to understand what is meant by such terms as| 
art, beauty and esthetic pleasure but in order 
not to digress too far from the object of thisi 
brief treatise only general definitions will be| 
presented. Thus sufficient flexibility will be 
provided for the reader to introduce his own 
ideas regarding these matters which involve so 
much of that which we call taste. Owing to the 
fact that each individual differs from all other 
individuals because of the differences in the 
chains of experiences which make individuals 
what they are, the matter of taste is variable 
and indeterminate. Doubtless all persons pos- 
sess esthetic instinct to a slight degree at least, 
and there are certain general guiding principles 
of esthetics which all would agree were correct, 
but when the element of taste is introduced into 
a problem the latter becomes indeterminate, for 
no solution can satisfy every individual. If in- 
flexible definitions of art, esthetics, etc., were 
given, or if they were qualified by discussions, 
necessarily very extensive, we would find our- 
selves in a situation aptly described by Kipling 
thus: 



k 



iPi 

te 



r 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 221 

''They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars 

apart, 
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: *It's striking, 

but is it artf 
The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle 

derrick swung, 
While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in 

an alien tonsue." 



Art involves the representation or reproduc- 
^tion of Nature, the emotions of the artist, and 
the coordination of both in such products as 
music, painting, poetry, sculpture, and architec- 
ture. Its aim is to substitute a better, richer, 
more complete and harmonious world for an un- 
satisfactory or inadequate reality. It is the re- 
{sult of a demand for a fairer creation than that 
vwhich actually exists, the ideal being one of 

(perfect unity and harmony. Esthetic pleasure 
IS a condition resulting from unity in experience, 
for if the latter is incomplete it conflicts with 
other experiences, is discordant, and conse- 
quently is not pleasing. 

Beauty is a characteristic of varied elements 
which are unified, complete and harmonious in 
their effects upon consciousness. According to 
JPaulhan, beauty and art are not equivalent 
terms though the experiences are often inter- 
mingled. Beauty has objective standards but 
art is primarily an attitude. In discussing the 



222 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

problem of beauty Miinsterberg says: ** Corre- 
sponding to man's three spheres of experience, 
to the outer world, to other individuals and to 
his inner personality, there are different forms 
of esthetic attitudes. Music expresses the har- 
mony of ourselves, as poetry unveils the har- 
mony of mankind, and fine art the harmony of 
Nature. In literature the three spheres of in- 
fluence find expression as epic, drama, and lyric | 
poetry. ' ' With the aid of the foregoing discus- 
sion, the reader should be able to form fairly 
definite ideas of the part that color must play 
in esthetics. 

We use color very largely for the purpose 
of obtaining variety which is so essential to a 
happy existence. Monotony is ever a mono- 
chrome which under continued adaptation be- 
comes colorless. Variety leads us contentedly 
through a colorful sojourn ; monotony condemns 
us to a colorless existence. It is to satisfy this 
demand for variety that colors are employed in 
objects. For the same reason, various colors 
used harmoniously please more than a single 
color with the result that we have about us many 
colors in rugs, paintings, furniture, wall-cover- 
ings, and wearing apparel, which are blended in 
varying degrees of harmony depending upon 
the sensibility and skill of those responsible. 



ii 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 223 

It is wrong to consider that such arrangements 
which give esthetic pleasure are merely beauti- 
ful because beauty is also useful. Many of the 
accessory parts of architecture, the colors of 
furnishings, etc., are primarily ornamental, but 
they are also useful. The truth of this state- 
ment is realized if we pause and imagine all the 
beauty suddenly eliminated from the world leav- 
ing us to live in an environment consisting of 
the manifestly useful. It may appear that this 
is a digression from the subject but these as- 
pects cannot be too strongly emphasized before 
beginning a discussion of the esthetics of color. 
These arguments apply equally well to all 
things capable of providing variety which is so 
essential in producing esthetic pleasure. Color 
is one of these. 

The esthetic significance of color was recog- 
nized many centuries ago. Xenophon, in the 
Memorabilia, reports a conversation between 
Socrates and Parrhasius in which the esthetic 
value of color is shown to have been appre- 
ciated by the early Greeks. [Plato also dis- 
cusses the beauty and symbolism of color and 
reveals his acquaintance with its ability to ex- 
cite emotional responsey_^Plotinus and other 
early writers also toucheoupon color as an ele- 
ment of beauty. However, not until a compara- 



224 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

lively recent period has color been discussed 
sufficiently in connection with esthetic principles 
to be helpful to any great extent. Allen, Dar- 
win, Fechner and others have tried to account 
for the esthetic value of color by means of 
association and various factors which influence 
the survival of the individual and the species 
in the evolution of the race. Notwithstanding 
all that has been written there is only a scanty 
literature which treats of the esthetics of color 
apart from the theories of esthetics. 

In discussing the part that association plays 
in esthetics Baldwin says: **As an esthetic 
principle, association is used to explain esthetic 
value by deriving the pleasure felt in the pres- 
ence of the beautiful or sublime, not directly 
from the form or constitution of the object as 
such, nor from the sensation it excites, but from 
the recall or revival of pleasure previously ex- 
perienced in connection with the same or a re- 
lated object or quality; e. g., red cheeks suggest 
youth and health, and are beautiful; red hands 
suggest disagreeable labor, and are ugly. ' ' The 
same idea can be applied in many of our en- 
counters with color. 

Beauty in color appears to depend upon the 
taste and intellectual development of the be- 
holder; in fact, upon his state of civilization. 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 225 

Primitive beings prefer gaudy and brilliant col- 
ors about them, while intellectual and cultured 
beings choose the subdued tints and shades. 
However, there is evidence that our taste for 
color alone differs little from that of the child 
tand savage. When the influences of environ- 
ment and association are minimized or elim- 
inated entirely we prefer pure colors more than 
the tints and shades ; that is, the pure colors are 
most agreeable. This is seen to coincide with 
the preferences of primitive intellects and in- 
dicates that after all there may be little differ- 
ence between the absolute experiences of human 
beings. 

Our use of colors in the decoration of things 
about us does not coincide with the preferences 
which we exhibit for colors viewed apart from 
ordinary environment and in the absence of as- 
sociation. In civilized art, colors are subdued, 
the tints and shades, rather than the pure colors, 
occupying the predominating areas. It is only 
possible to account for this difference by at- 
tributing it to the influences of environment and 
association. \ After all, is not the difference be- 
tween the primitive and the highly civilized 
being represented in their respective abilities 
or tendencies to connect various experiences by 
what we term association? If this argument 



226 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 



, 



is sustained, it is indeed very interesting and 
important to be able to conclude that the abso- 
lute experiences of color are not greatly dif- 
ferent for beings of all degrees of civilization. 
Systematic experiments on color preference 
with primitive beings would be of interest from 
this viewpoint. 

Although, in general, pure colors are always 
more agreeable than slightly saturated colors, 
it is contended by some that green and violet 
reach their highest degree of agreeableness 
when not fully saturated. Field has stated that 
those colors which are naturally of high lumi- 
nosity have their greatest beauty in their lighter 
tints, and those which are naturally of low lumi- 
nosity are most beautiful when highly saturated. 
Experiments do not indicate this to be true, 
although there appears to be a tendency in 
this direction as will be seen by the data on 
color preference presented in another chapter. 
These data on color preference which have an 
intimate relation with the esthetic aspect should 
be considered in connection with the present dis- 
cussion. 

Color, to be most effective generally, must 
occupy large areas. In a natural landscape the 
colors which occupy relatively large areas of 
the visual field usually have the greatest in- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 227 

fluence upon most persons. It is true that 
small spots of brilliant color usually attract tlie 
attention owing to the extreme contrast, how- 
ever, these are usually lost in the general view. 
Similarly in interior decoration or in a paint- 
ing the general color scheme is particularly 
influential and lasting in the memory of the 
beholder. The roving eye may be halted mo- 
mentarily by a relatively small spot of different 
color but the latter usually will be quickly for- 
gotten as the eye passes on. It serves chiefly 
as a punctuation mark in enabling the beholder 
to appreciate the general tone of color. In 
other words, in the esthetics of color all the 
colors of the ensemble play parts but these dif- 
fer considerably from each other depending 
upon the areas involved as well as upon the 
colors themselves. Therefore esthetic pleasure, 
in most oases, is the result of the entire ensem- 
ble in which the colors of the predominant areas 
are most directly influential. 

Color is seen at the same time as form but 
form is usually revealed by light and shade to 
a much greater extent than by color. The gen- 
eral office of color is to supply the drapery. It 
aids to a relatively slight degree in revealing 
form, but serves chiefly in imparting an agree- 
able aspect to objects, in augmenting relief to 



228 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

some extent, and in many cases in providing the 
variety so much evidenced in our desire to have 
patterns in wall coverings, rugs, and other 
surroundings. 

The esthetics of color arrangement can be 
studied experimentally with convincing results, 
however, this is the work of the trained investi- 
gator. Painters, decorators and others whose 
work primarily involves the esthetics and har- 
mony of color may contend that such work lies 
entirely within their province but such is not 
the case. These artists have the ability to 
harmonize color in a resulting unity which gives 
esthetic pleasure but if they attempt to write 
the formulae by means of which harmonious re- 
sults can be obtained their descriptions often 
become so involved and swamped in words as to 
leave the reader bewildered. This is the natural 
result of attempts to draw conclusions from 
specific practical cases in which the many fac- 
tors have not been controlled. 

For this reason many artists contend that, 
aside from a few general principles of color 
harmony, the realization of satisfactory color 
arrangements depends upon an esthetic instinct. 
The attitude of science is naturally that the 
facts of esthetics are discoverable. In the 
presence of knowledge mysteries of yesterday 



M 



8t 



re 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 229 

become commonplace simplicities to-day, but 
knowledge consists merely of the orderly sepa- 
ration and coordination of simple facts. It is 
true that, in order to produce an esthetic ar- 
rangement of colors, a degree of feeling and 
that which we may call instinct, must be pos- 
sessed by the successful artist. Esthetic in- 
stinct is doubtless an unconscious possession of 
certain knowledge which it is the aim of science 
to analyze. 

There are few analytical data available which 
shed light upon the problem of the esthetics of 
color. Like many other problems discussed in 
this book, this is included in the unexplored 
region which must be invaded eventually by the 
psychologist. That the problems can be at- 
tacked successfully by controlled experiments 
upon a large group of subjects has been shown 
by the results already obtained in the few 
scattering experiments. In order to illustrate 
a case and to present the data which were ob- 
tained, an investigation by Miss Kate Gordon 
on the esthetics of color arrangement will be 
discussed. 

The problem was suggested by one of the 
many questions which arise in the use of color, 
this one being as follows: **In massing colors 
on a canvas is there any general reason for 



230 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

placing certain colors near the center and others 
near the outside?" She used various symmet- 
rical designs, and it is thus seen that othej 



: 



: 




/\ 


<1 


M 


t> 


S7 


b 


Z\ 


< 


|>X# 


■\7 



c 

Fig. 5. 



Patterns used by Miss Gordon. 



factors besides color must be contended with, 
even in controlled experiments. Form is al- 
most always an accompanying factor fron: 
which there is no escape. Certain problems oi 
symmetry entered the problem which will not be 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 231 

discussed here. In Fig. 5 are shown the designs 
used in the experiments. Preliminary tests 
were made with colors arranged as in design, 
a, in which a central square was surrounded by 
four rectangular areas, the total area of which 
equaled that of the central square. One color 
occupied the central square and another the 
rectangular areas. This design proved unsatis- 
factory because the figure as a whole was unin- 
teresting and ungraceful and because the cen- 
tral color was disliked on account of its un- 
broken mass. It was necessary to introduce 
more complexity into the design in order to 
obtain an unquestioned esthetic relation. 
p The researches of Pierce and of Puffer indi- 
cated that, since colors of different brightness 
were to be used, a contrast of small and large 
masses would be desirable. The colors used 
were highly saturated red, yellow, green and 
blue and these were illuminated by daylight. 
The chief designs used are shown in h, c, and d. 
In h and c it is seen that the outer and inner 
triangular areas were merely reversed; in d 
these were of equal areas. In all cases, sets of 
observations were made with two different col- 
ors, occupying the inner and outer triangles 
respectively. In the next set the colors were 
exchanged. Six combinations of colors were 



232 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

used, namely, blue-yellow, red-green, blue-red, 
green-yellow, blue-green, red-yellow. 

The background was varied from nearly black 
to a light gray for corresponding complete sets 
of combinations. In a single set of experi- 
ments four frames were used, two of design h 
and two of c. These four frames containing 
only two different colors were presented to each 
observer simultaneously. Thus for a given 
case the observer saw blue in the center of de- 
sign h, and yellow in the outer triangles and 
also in the same design yellow in the center and 
blue in the outer triangles. The same was true 
of the other two frames containing design c. 
After the frames were presented to the ob- 
server the subjects were not restricted in any 
way in their choice of the most esthetic ar- 
rangement. They were merely asked to re- 
cord the preference order. The subjects were 
groups of young women (college students) 
varying in number. 

It was found that the choice of colors for the 
central regions seemed to be a function of their 
brightness and further experiments were con- 
ducted with the two colors of approximately 
equal brightnesses. Design d was used, thus 
eliminating the factor of unequal area as well 
as that of unequal brightness, for the triangles 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 233 

in this design were of equal areas. The total 
number of preferences for designs having red 
in the center were 72 ; yellow 59 ; green 45 ; blue 
28. The preference for the warmer colors in 
the center was very marked in all combinations 
of color for these patterns. 

A summary of the interesting results is as 
follows : 

(1) When large and small masses of color 
appear together it is more agreeable to JBnd the 
large ones in the periphery of the visual field. 
. (2) Brighter colors are preferred near the 
center of such figures and darker ones near the 
periphery, whether the background of the colors 
is light or dark. 

(3) In figures where central and peripheral 
masses are equal in size, and where a light back- 
ground is surrounded by a black frame, a dark 
color is preferred in the center. 

(4) There is probably some tendency to pre- 
fer large masses of a favorite color, but this 
tendency does not prevail over other considera- 
tions. 

(5) When colors are equated in brightness 
the color which stands nearer the red end of the 
spectrum is preferred in the center. 

Obviously these results are strictly applicable 
only to the designs used, but their usefulness 



234 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

can be extended to some extent with safety. 
The results are not only interesting in them- 
selves, but also in general as an illustration of 
the vulnerability of the problem of the esthetics 
of color. Obviously a great number of experi- 
ments must be performed before the general 
laws of the esthetics of color are laid bare. The 
field is inviting to the investigator and is one 
that promises to yield much of interest. The 
accumulation of such knowledge does not jeop- 
ardize the usefulness of the artist, for his fine 
sensibility and creative ability must always be 
depended upon to supply the beautiful arrange- 
ments of color. However, science is curious, 
and this curiosity is responsible for much of 
the progress of mankind. It is hoped that the 
artist will welcome such investigations because 
knowledge will do no harm. In the meantime 
the artist can progress as he has in the past. 



HARMONY 

WJG enjoy color independently of design 
or of association with the object upon 
which it occurs, but usually most of our pleasure 
derived from color is dependent upon the spa- 
tial relation of various colors viewed simultan- 
eously. WhpTi _aj3__^r_rflTigPTr)ent of c^^IoTf^j^ 
jleasingi.it. is said to bo a, coIoL-harmony. Why 
certain combinations of colors are agreeable and 
others are disagreeable or even shocking to the 
finer sensibilities is a question which is yet to be 
answered. It is the aim of this book to contri- 
bute slightly at least toward the answer to this 
question but the available knowledge of the psy- 
chology of color dwindles almost into insignif- 
icance when it is approached with the purpose 
of seeking an answer to this and many other 
questions. There is no doubt that contrasts of 
hue, of brightness and of areas, as well as sym- 
metry, balance, and arrangement in general are 
important factors in the appeal of combina- 
tions of color to the human sensibility. Fur- 
thermore, association, environment, training, 
temperament, and, perhaps, heredity are in- 
fluences of more or less importance. 

235 



236 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR / 

In most discussions of the harmony of color 
certain laws of harmony are presented. These 
are usually the identical, or slightly modified 
laws which were enunciated by Chevreul, the 
French chemist, who, in his life of more than 
one hundred years, contributed much experi- 
mental data of interest in the combination of 
colors. These laws, however, are meant to be 
mere guideposts and are not to be taken as 
distinct boundaries of the different classes of 
color-harmonies. In fact, a given harmonious 
arrangement may not be in accordance with 
any single principle, but is likely to involve 
more than one. No simple laws of color-har- 
mony can be framed which will be separated by 
distinct boundary lines. Furthermore, when 
other factors are considered such as the in 
definiteness of the nomenclature of color, the 
indeterminateness of individual taste, and the 
meagemess of data, it must be concluded thai 
these laws of color-harmony can be viewed a1 
present only as general statements. They wil 
not become more specific until the accumulatioi 
of knowledge has made this simplification pos 
sible and doubtless will never be expressible 
with exactitude. It is not intended that th^ 
foregoing statements should discourage the us^ 
of these general laws, or the establishment o; 

I 
•I 



ii 



ti 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOK 237 

others as the knowledge of color-harmony ac- 
cumulates, but they should serve to caution 
those who take these laws too seriously at 
present. 

The difficulty which is met in pressing the use 
of laws of color harmony too far is exemplified 
by considering the tastes of the savage and of 
the civilized being. An arrangement of color 
which delights the former is likely to be con- 
sidered garish by the latter. On the other 
hand, the coloring of a Corot, Whistler, or 
Turner will please the civilized being, but will 
be found unsatisfactory or uninteresting by the 
primitive being. A cplor-harmony must a rouse 
a f eeling_of_ complete ness. In the foregoing 
cases the color arrangements may not trans- 
gress the laws of harmony, but still may be un- 
satisfactory, incomplete, or unharmonious de- 
pending upon the taste of the beholder. It may 
be considered folly to judge the laws of color- 
harmony enunciated by civilized man by means 
of the judgment of the savage. However, this 
illustrates the relation of taste to the problem 
and, inasmuch as civilized tastes vary so widely, 
that of the savage may be considered as merely 
one extreme. 

Inasmuch as certain phenomena of color, such 
as the spectrum, figure prominently in discus- 



238 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

sions of the harmony of color, it is of interest 
to consider how far such phenomena which are 
associated more particularly with the science 
of color can be depended upon in forming a 
basis for the laws of color-harmony. The artist 
does not generally avail himself sufficiently of 
the aid which science can render, yet when he 
does attempt to do so he is likely to err owing 
to a lack of an intimate acquaintance with vari- 
ous related aspects of the subject. Science 
would attack the subject of color-harmony by 
initiating a painstaking study of various com- 
binations of color with many human subjects 
and the experiments would be subjected to all 
the controls possible. This is investigation. 
However, when the artist grasps certain phe- 
nomena, such as the sequence of colors in the 
spectrum, or certain relations such as com- 
plementary colors upon which to base his laws 
of color-harmony, he is working largely in an 
opposite direction. He connects his ideas of 
color-harmony or taste for color-arrangement 
with these phenomena. In such a procedure he 
is investigating to some degree, but he is chiefly 
theorizing. An open mind will consider the 
harmonious effects of color not to be necessarily 
related to the sequence of spectral colors and 
to other facts which are accidental as far as the 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 239 

human intellect is concerned. If, however, there 
appears to be a relation between the colors 
which produce harmonious combinations and the 
arrangement of the colors in the spectrum, the 
complementary colors, or any other fact of the 
science of color, these can then be united as a 
foundation for laws or theories. The impor- 
tant point is that this relation must be first 
established by a consensus of opinion of those 
qualified to pass judgment. Certain relations 
of this sort appear to be evident and, therefore, 
the statement of laws based upon them is 
justifiable. 

Chevreul divided color-harmonies into two 
general classes, namely, harmonies of analogous 
colors and harmonies of contrast, and each of 
these he sub-divided into three kinds. He used 
the words **tone" and ^^ scale,'' so it appears 
best to retain them in the statement of these 
laws, but to explain what he meant by them. 
The tones of a color (a pigment) designate the 
different modifications which that color, taken 
at its maximum purity, is capable of receiving 
from the addition of white (which weakens its 
tone) and of black (which deepens it). The 
term, therefore, includes both tints and shades. 
The word *^ scale" is applied to the collection 
of tones of the same color thus modified. The 



240 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

pure color is the normal tone of the scale, if this 
normal tone does not belong to a broken oi 
reduced scale, that is, to a scale all the tones o^ 
which are altered with black. 

The laws of color-harmony as originallj 
enunciated by Chevreul are as follows : 

Harmonies of Analogy, 

1. The harmony of scale, produced by th( 
simultaneous view of different tones of a singh 
scale, more or less approximating. 

2. The harmony of hues, produced by th^ 
simultaneous view of tones of the same heigh 
(degree), or nearly so, belonging to scales more 
or less approximating. 

3. The harmony of dominant hue, producec 
by the simultaneous view of different colore 
assorted conformably to the law of contrast 
but one of them predominating, as would resul 
from seeing these colors through a tinted glas^' 
of this dominant hue. 

Harmonies of Contrasts, 

4. The harmony of contrast of scale, producec 
by the simultaneous view of two tones of the 
same scale, very distant from each other. 

5. The harmony of contrast of hues, producec 
by the simultaneous view of tones of differen 
height, each belonging to contiguous scales. 

6. The harmony of contrast of colors, pro 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 241 

duced by the simultaneous view of colors be- 
longing to scales very far apart, assorted ac- 
cording to the law of contrast: the difference 
in height of juxtaposed colors may also augment 
the contrast of colors. 

It is seen that these laws are only meant to 
be very general by the looseness of their con- 
struction. Each deals with a specific relation, 
but the limits of its jurisdiction are not and 
cannot be accurately defined. Harmonies en- 
countered in practice will be found difficult to 
analyze exactly in terms of a single law and 
in the case of more than one law being involved 
it is impossible to analyze them with accuracy. 
However, these six laws are extremely useful 
in practice and in analysis and both science and 
art owe a debt of gratitude to Chevreul for in- 
jecting a degree of systematic procedure into 
the arrangement of colors into harmonious 
combinations. 

The author refrains from departing from a 
general discussion of this subject or from the 
treatment of color-harmony as related to science 
Dr to fairly well established laws and principles, 
Decause the only remaining procedure would be 
to expound his own ideas of color-harmony, 
rhe latter treatment would merely add one 
more opinion to those already expressed by 



242 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

others who have written upon the same subject 
The present need is not for another dissertatio] 
upon a single individuaPs idea of color-harmony 
which would include descriptions of specifl 
arrangements of colors. If a description o 
such arrangements, which were approved by ; 
large majority of persons capable of passing 
judgment, could be presented it would be 
valuable contribution. In fact it would be pos 
sible from these to construct more specific law 
of color-harmony. A general criticism of tb 
writings on this subject is that they represent i: 
most cases largely the ideas of individuals an 
often these are interwoven with a great amoun 
of very bad theory. It has been the air 
throughout this book to remain as close as pos 
sible to indisputable facts or, at least, to idea 
that are generally accepted as sound. 

If the spectrum be closely observed it will b 
seen to represent a sequence of hues blendin 
into each other with imperceptible nuances 
For this reason it is logical to use it as a poii 
tion of the foundation of laws of color-harmon; 
based on analogy, however, the purples must bi 
accounted for in some manner because they d^ 
not exist in the spectrum. This is easily ac 
complished by bending the spectrum (in th 
imagination) around the circumference of 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 243 

circle permitting it to occupy, say three fourths 
of the periphery. The remaining gap between 
the violet and red is then filled with the purples, 
the violet-purple being next to the violet and 
the red-purple adjacent to the red portion of 
the spectrum. This has been called the color- 
circle and has formed the basis of many dis- 
cussions of color-harmony. It is seen that any 
small portion of the circumference is occupied 
by a sequence of colors differing only slightly 
in hue. 

Various solids such as the sphere and modi- 
fications of it have been used to provide places 
for the tints and shades as well as for the pure 
colors and these solids have played conspicuous 
parts in developing rules for color-harmony. 
Such efforts are very commendable because they 
rescue the application of color from a condi- 
tion of anarchy and provide at least a systematic 
procedure for the use of color. It is needless 
to illustrate these here because they can be found 
elsewhere. It may be of interest to note that 
in the case of the color-sphere the equator is 
in reality the color-circle composed of the 
spectral hues and the purples; the poles are 
respectively white and black; the polar axis 
represents a scale of grays; tints occupy one 
hemisphere and shades the other. 



244 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

If the color-circle be drawn as described 
above it will be seen that various diameters 
have, at their ends, colors which are approxi-» 
mately complementary. This diagrammatic! 
fact is also incorporated into rules of color-har-l 
mony based upon the color-circle or the color-| 
sphere. Incidentally, it is fairly well acceptedl 
that complementary colors under certain condi- 
tions are harmonious combinations especially 
when one color is used sparingly in area relative 
to the area occupied by the other. 

In experiments conducted by the author or 
color preference with a group of subjects with 
fifteen fairly pure colors, the subjects were askeci 
to pair the colors in the most pleasing combinai 
tions and to indicate their preference ordert 
For example, the colors, which were each foui 
inches square, were spread upon the table anci 
the subject was asked to choose the most agree 
able pair, completely eliminating, if possible 
such factors as association. After the pair wa 
noted the colors were placed again among th<i 
others and a second choice was made, no restric! 
tion being made upon the number of times '<\ 
color could be used in successive combinational 
This was continued until each subject had madi 
a list of ten choices in the order of preference 
On inspecting these data it was found that aboii| 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOE 245 

5fty per cent, of the chosen combinations were 
approximately complementary and in very few 
jhoices were the two colors closely related in 
:he spectrum or color-circle. Such data will 
eventually provide a sound basis upon which to 
construct certain laws of color-harmony, but 
)nly meager data are available at present. It is 
;rue that our ordinary uses of colors are modi- 
ied by environment, pattern, spatial relation 
md many other factors so that such data are 
lot directly applicable to practice. However, 
;he conclusions reached from ordinary usage 
)f color are equally open to criticism because of 
;he many uncontrolled factors involved. In 
■act, we must ultimately take into account the 
lata obtained from both sources and in the 
neantime hope that critical analysis will be 
ipplied to the conditions in all cases which are 
itudied. 

A large number of color-charts designed as 
'oundations for color-harmony, when used in 
iccordance with certain rules accompanying 
hem, are available to those interested in this 
ispect of color. Some of these are very com- 
aendable and doubtless have served both the 
tudent and artist very well. Most of these are 
ased on the color-circle or on the color-sphere 
lore or less modified. These are simple and 



246 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

readily understood because they are based on^ 
sequences in hues, tints and shades and upor 
the complementary colors. Some colorists havt 
gone so far as to apply quantitative formulae tc 
the construction of color-harmonies — a hazardj 
ous and confusing procedure when it is considi 
ered that there are hundreds of pigments avaiL 
able in the market. I 

Many of these schemes contain a great dea 
of unsound reasoning. For example, Field at 
tempts to demonstrate the proportional power^ 
of colors numerically and gives formulae fo: 
combining colors harmoniously. These rule^ 
are open to criticism from many viewpoints, 
Colors are not specifically designated whei 
given merely a name such as red. There ar 
many red pigments available and their spectrs^ 
compositions vary so widely that far diiferei^ 
results are obtained when mixed with anothe, 
color. Furthermore, it should be remembere 
that pigments when mixed involve the subtrac 
tive principle of color-mixture but colors whe| 
viewed involve, to a degree at least, the additivj j^ 
principle. It is futile to attempt to critici^ , 
these various methods. Instead it is recoiij 
mended that those interested in the applicatioi 
of color, study the science of the subject anj 
they will then be able to judge the various pr<j ^ 



w 



B 



IS 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 247 

Dsals for themselves. There is much of value 
. many of them, but none can be satisfactory 
aless it conforms to the facts of th^^eience of 
»lor-mixture and of various other aspects. 
The great colorists were well acquainted with 
le science of color. The writings of Leonardo 
1 Vinci contain many pleas for a greater un- 
^rstanding of this aspect of color on the part 
■ those engaged in the artistic use of color. 
his was recognized by such men centuries ago 
hen the science of color was not well under- 
ood. To-day the physics of color is well de- 
jloped so that colorists now have a great ad- 
mtage over those of past centuries. The atti- 
[de of the experienced and successful colorist 
expressed by Mengs as follows: *^I know 
)t if lessons on coloring have ever been given, 
)twithstanding it is a part so principal that it 
IS its rules founded on science and reason, 
'ithout such a study it is impossible that youth 
n acquire a good taste in coloring or under- 
and harmony/' The author can supplement 
is from his own small acquaintance with art- 
ts, for those who are interested in and familiar 
th the science of color make excellent use of 
is knowledge in their application of color 
•th in painting and in decoration. It is un- 
rtunate that students of color-harmony are 



248 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

not more seriously encouraged to study the sc 
enee by giving them the opportunity to vie 
some of its wonders at the beginning of thei 
career in color. 

Field and others have proposed that a con 
bination of colors is harmonious when the co 
ors are opposed to each other in **equivalei 
proportions chromatically, or in such propo 
tions as neutralize their individual activities. 
Some have carried this idea so far as to contei 
that a color-combination is harmonious whc 
the combined sensations of the different colo 
would produce a neutral gray if they could " 
summated. A little reflection shows that tt 
is incorrect for most '^harmonies of analog^l 
would thus fail to l3e harmonies. None wl 
possesses a fair knowledge of the science 
color, will be misled by the many incorrect pre:' 
ises found in such writings. 

Nature is sometimes taken as the standa 
chart of color-harmonies and incongruities 
its color-scheme, as viewed from a particu] 
hypothesis of color-harmony, are excused 
explained in some manner. Doubtless our ' 
thetic taste has been greatly influenced by c 
natural environment but it is unnecessary 
believe that Nature's color-schemes are inva! 
ably faultless. We are sentimental toward 1| 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 249 

ure and are likely to draw upon sentiment in 
►ur defense of these incongruities. This re- 
mits in conclusions which are obviously of 
loubtful value. 

On the other hand, as many mistakes are 
aade by a purely superficial analysis of the 
iolors employed. For example, blue and green 
vould not often be chosen as a harmonious 
iombination, nevertheless, this is perhaps the 
nost conspicuous combination of color in Na- 
ure represented by the great juxtaposed areas 
>f blue sky and green vegetation. If the an- 
Jysis stopped here Nature would be charged 
vith poor taste. However, the sky is a great 
aany times brighter than the green foliage and 
t is a tint of blue and often a very light one. 
^furthermore, this tremendous brightness con- 
trast throws the green of the vegetation into a 
'ery dark shade so that the simple statement of 
)lue and green in contrast does not describe 
he combination adequately. Likewise the pink 
ose in contrast with its green foliage does not 
ully describe the combination. The rose 
)etals are found to be colored with a variety 
if tints and the green leaves are a dark grayish 
Teen. Thus it is seen that careful observa- 
ion and description is essential for drawing 
orrect conclusions. 



250 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

The analogy of music has been used to i 
great extent in the discussion of color-harmonj 
Such terms as tone, key, pitcl^, quality, an< 
others have been borrowed from the termi 
nology of music. This comparison of coloi 
harmony with music has been helpful, becaus 
of the indefiniteness of the nomenclature o 
color, but it has also misled some far afield be 
cause of their failure to recognize that a 
analogy cannot be pressed too far. For ir 
stance, McDonald attempted to base a systei 
of color-harmony on the musical scale and th 
laws of the harmony of music. If this coul 
be done it would be mere accident, but M( 
Donald would hav^ abandoned the attempt i 
he had stopped to think that the ear is analytics 
while the eye is synthetic in its operatioi 
There are many other reasons why such an a 
tempt was doomed to failure, but this one is s 
overwhelmingly convincing as to require n 
other support in condemning such attempts i 
relating the harmonies of colors and sounds. 

Two tones struck simultaneously are nc 
synthesized by the ear, but are recognized e 
two distinct tones; however, two colored light 
when mixed are synthesized into one whic 
usually appears far different than either viewe 
singly. As long as McDonald kept his coloj 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 251 

separated his scheme might have borne fruit and 
it is only fair to state that from this viewpoint 
his attempt is not without merit. Others who 
have attempted to produce color-music based 
upon the analogy of colors and sounds have 
made far worse blunders and have contributed 
nothing more, in many cases, than chaos to an 
already abundant supply. Other facts bearing 
upon this aspect will be brought out later. 

It has been the aim in this chapter to discuss 
the question of color-harmony broadly and to 
indicate its possible relations to the science of 
color. No attempt has been made to record the 
author's ideas of harmony, but rather to point 
out a few of the pitfalls and to make a plea for 
a greater use of scientific knowledge and of 
searching analysis. 



COLOR PRACTICE 

IT appears of interest in this discussion of 
the language of color to touch upon the 
means for obtaining color and upon some of 
the principles and results of color-mixture. In 
the use of color three general methods are avail- 
able, namely, the additive, the subtractive, and 
the juxtapositional. The first is that involved 
in the mixture of colored lights as applied upon 
the stage and in similar cases; the second is 
that involved in the use of pigments in paint- 
ing, dyeing, and color-painting; and the third 
may be used with either lights or pigments. 
The various principles involved in these three 
methods of color-mixture have been much con- 
fused by many who practice the art of color. 

The primary colors of the additive method are 
red, green, and blue; that is, a mixture of 
these colors in proper proportions will produce 
white light or lights of a vast variety of domi- 
nant hues. In other words, if lights of these 
three colors be permitted to illuminate a white 
paper the resultant color will be white or any 
dominant hue depending upon the relative in- 
tensities of the three primary components.! 

252 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 253 

For example, red and blue lights when mixed 
mal^e purple ; red and green lights make yellow ; 
blue and green lights make blue-green; and 
yellow and blue lights make white. The latter 
case is of interest further because it will be 
noted that the yellow can be made by mixing 
red and green so that the yellow-blue mixture 
which resulted in white is actually composed of 
the three primary components, red, green, and 
blue. These are examples of the synthetic 
process of color-vision. The results of various 
mixtures of colored lights can only be predicted 
with certainty when the facts of spectrum 
analysis and of color-mixture are well known. 

The primary colored lights which the author 
finds satisfactory for general purposes are: a 
red bordering on the orange-red in hue, a green 
with a yellowish hue, and a blue made by using 
an ordinary blue glass or transparent dye cor- 
rected with a blue-green glass or dye in order to 
eliminate the red light which is so commonly 
transmitted by blue dyes and glasses. 

The primary colors of the subtractive method 
are usually considered to be red, yellow and 
blue, but there appears to be no justification 
for considering red to be as ^^ primary'' as 
purple. In fact if the artist or dyer depended 
only upon these colors he would find that he had 



254 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

no means of obtaining a rich purple by mix- 
ture, therefore purple, yellow and blue are 
primaries of greater productibility. In fact 
the so-called red primary of the artist or color- 
printer is in reality a purple so that the diffi- 
culty is due to a misnomer rather than to the 
use of an actual red pigment. 

If it is considered that the resultant color 
due to a subtractive mixture of two or more 
colors is that which is common to all the com- 
ponents of the mixture, the result can be readily 
predicted through an acquaintance with the 
spectral characteristics of the components in- 
volved. The principle of the mixture of pig-i 
ments can be conveniently demonstrated by 
superposing colored glasses. In fact, this 
method is used in practice in obtaining colored 
lights for use as primaries for the additive 
method. 

If purple and yellow glasses be superposed, 
red results because this color is the only one 
transmitted by the two glasses. Blue and 
yellow glasses when superposed transmit green 
light, and blue and purple glasses when thus 
combined transmit blue light. These glasses 
can be considered as representing microscopic 
flakes of pigments and thus the principles of 
the mixture of pigments are readily under* 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 255 

stood. In such cases the incident light pene- 
trates through some of the microscopic flakes 
and a portion of it finds its way out by reflec- 
tion. While penetrating and emerging it un- 
dergoes various changes in color by these sub- 
tractive processes. However in the mixture of 
pigments other factors such as body color, 
transparency, surface color, etc., are involved. 
The ordinary colors of pigments are the results 
of the subtractive method; for example, an 
opaque red object appears red under white light 
because it has the ability to reflect only the red 
rays to any appreciable extent. If it is viewed 
under the illumination from a mercury arc or a 
blue light it appears black, or nearly so, because 
no rays are present which it is capable of re- 
flecting to any great degree. It is thus seen 
that in the subtractive process the tendency is 
toward black and in the additive process toward 
white. 

The juxtapositional method of color-mixture 
is an averaging additive method. If a few 
colors occupying small areas be juxtaposed they 
will appear of a certain uniform color if the eye 
is at a distance sufficiently great so that the in- 
dividual colors are no longer resolved. A 
simple demonstration is that of painting one 
end of a pack of cards one color, say red, 



256 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

and the other end green ; on reversing alternate 
cards and viewing one end of the pack at a 
short distance it will appear yellow. That is, 
the alternate fine strips of red and green when 
unresolved by the eye will appear yellow and 
the apparent brightness will be a mean of the 
brightnesses of the components. 

This method is that involved in * impression- 
istic" painting in which, for instance, a yellow 
color is actually produced by pointilistic appli- 
cation of the various components, namely red, 
orange, yellow, and green. It is also used in 
textile manufacture by alternating or systemat- 
ically grouping differently colored threads, in 
color-photography and elsewhere. The results 
are often more luminous than when pigments 
or dyes are intimately mixed to obtain the de- 
sired color for, owing to the lack of high satura- 
tion of many of the available pigments and 
dyes, a necessary mixture results in the forma- 
tion of a certain amount of gray associated with 
the resulting dominant hue. In other words, 
if a brilliant green is desired it is a safer and 
more satisfactory procedure to use a natural 
green pigment than to obtain it by a mixture 
of yellow and blue-green pigments. The most 
satisfactory colors from the viewpoint of bril- 
liancy are obtained by mixture only when the 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 257 

hues of the components are closely related to 
that which it is desired to obtain. Lights of 
various colors can be obtained by the juxta- 
positional method though usually not as effi- 
ciently as they would be obtained directly. 
These various methods find many applications 
in the practice of both the science and art of 
color. 

Certain characteristics of coloring materials 
should be closely studied. The aniline dyes 
provide a beautiful array of fairly pure and 
highly transparent colors. Colored glasses, 
pigments, dyes, water colors, inks, etc., are 
valuable tools, all of which have their places in 
the science and art of color. A broad acquaint- 
ance with these is a great aid to those especially 
interested in any of the aspects of color. The 
chief characteristics which should be noted in 
the consideration of coloring elements are dur- 
ability, depth, body, purity, surface character, 
transparency, brilliancy, luminosity, richness, 
and beauty. 

The method of applying colors to surfaces is 
also of importance. For example, if a liquid 
color be applied by means of an air brush, it 
will often appear quite different (usually much 
richer) than when applied by means of an ordi- 
nary brush. In the former case when applied 



258 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

thickly it will be left with a rougher and more 
porous surface which deepens its hue and in- 
creases its purity. Many points of this nature 
are associated with the application of color and 
the artist in color cannot fail to profit by an 
intimate knowledge of the laws and principles 
of the science of color. 

Doubtless the blending of colors has been a 
difficult technique for the young colorist to ac- 
quire. Perhaps in no other single aspect of 
the art of color is a knowledge of the spectral 
characteristics of pigments and of the science 
of color-mixture more valuable. If the spectral 
characters of the pigments are known, approxi- 
mately at least, and the principles of the sub- 
tractive mixture of colors have been thoroughly 
grasped no discouraging surprises will be en- 
countered. For example, if red and green are 
blended the result will not be a gradual change 
from one dominant hue to the other. In this i 
case a muddy color will be found midway be- 
cause the result of mixing red and green pig- 
ments is a gray with perhaps a suggestion of ! 
residual color. In blending colors, whose 
dominant hues are far apart spectrally, it is 
necessary to use a color between them which con- 
tains components of both colors. For example, 
in blending red and green pigments, yellow is a i 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 259 

satisfactory color for use with them at the in- 
definite blended junction. Purple may be used 
for blending red and violet; white for green 
and purple; blue-green for green and violet; 
white for yellow and violet. A study of these 
suggestions will reveal the principle upon which 
they are based, that is, the blending color is 
really a link between the colors which are 
blended by possessing a color common to the 
two colors. A valuable aid will be found in the 
color-circle which has been described in the 
previous chapter. 

It would be an endless task to describe the 
colors resulting from a mixture of pigments. 
Certainly practice and a knowledge of the 
spectral characteristics of the colors at hand 
are better guides than a cumbersome descrip- 
tion of specific cases which at best could not 
be accurate. Some of the available color-charts 
are helpful as supplementary guides. The 
futility of descriptions of the results of mixing 
pigments is readily exemplified by a few cases. 
Brown might be said to be produced by mixing 
an orange-red with black, however, if we 
examine the many colors that are called brown 
we find a vast array of them varying greatly in 
hue. Obviously these are not all produced in 
the same manner. A bluish-gray can be pro- 



260 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

duced by a mixture of black and white tinted by 
means of a small proportion of a blue pigment. 
On the other hand, it might be produced by a^ 
mixture of various colors without black or 
white, for example, a proper mixture of purple 
and bluish-green. Coloring elements such as 
pigments are the tools of those applying color 
in the arts. An intimate acquaintance with 
these tools is essential and is assumed to be 
possessed by those interested in applying the 
language of color. 

The application of color, whether it be in a 
painting, in decoration, in the lighting of the 
stage or in the many other places where it has 
found its way, is successful only when guide^ 
by the fine sensibility of the artist. Forftiula 
cannot be written which will guide those who dd 
not have a well developed esthetic sense in ap-j 
plying colors to the full extent of their expres-j 
siveness. This book and others have aimed tc 
bring to the attention of those who use anc 
enjoy colors, various facts and viewpoints con 
cerning color, but it must ever remain for th( 
artist to play the music of light — colors — just as 
it is left to the musician to render musid 
However, colors should be appreciated by everj 
one possessing the gift of color-vision just at 
music is appreciated. In the rendering of coloi 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 261 

as of music we must depend upon the artist 
who possesses a fine sensibility, in which senti- 
ment, judgment, taste, and perception are har- 
monized. 

Notwithstanding the admission that the artist 
must be depended upon to play the music of 
light he can profit as well as others in keeping 
in close touch with the language of color. The 
artist has created a portion of the scanty 
language of color which is available, but the 
consensus of opinion of the masses (which is un- 
consciously expressed) has established the re- 
mainder. The enlightened artist knows that 
colors have certain powers of arousing emotions 
and to analyze these effects is one of his aims 
for, with this information he is enabled, as 
Addison says, ^*to put a virtue into colors, or 
I to find a proper dress for a passion." 



COLOR-MUSIC 

RHETORICALLY, colors may be referrec 
to as the music of light, but in pressing 
the analogy between sounds and colors too fai 
the promising and well-intended efforts oj 
many persons have ended in an entanglemen* 
of ridiculous argument. The nomenclature oJ 
color is so lacking in standardization that it haj 
been convenient and even necessary to borrov 
definite words from the well-standardized ter 
minology of the science and art of music. The 
continued use of such terms as tone, key, pitct 
harmony, and scale, has misled many to com 
elude that there is a close affinity between sighi 
and hearing. This conclusion combined with {' 
scanty or superficial knowledge of the scienc(j 
of sounds and of colors has resulted in tW 
formulation of many ideas regarding relation 
of. sounds and colors which have led man^ 
others astray. It is not the intention to dem 
the possible development of color-music, or ai 
art of mobile color, for it appears to the autho: 
that in the same number of centuries which wen 
required to bring music to its present stage i 
is possible for the art of mobile color to evolv^ 

262 






THE LANGUAGE OF COLOE 263 

nto something definite and full of meaning, 
riie aim in the present chapter is to discuss the 
jrrors of the past and possibly to suggest the 
!Ourse to be pursued in order that the pitfalls 
nay be avoided. 

First let us consider how far it is safe to 
ixtend the analogy between sounds and colors. 
Dhe specific meaning of analogy is a similarity 
if relations and in Webster's dictionary is 
ound this illustration: *^ Learning enlightens 
he mind because it is to the mind what light is 
the eye, enabling it to discover things before 
lidden. ' ' From this it cannot be deduced that 
ight and learning operate in the same manner, 
^hus it is seen that an analogy includes only a 
esemblance of relations. If the full import of 
he limitations of an analogy had been univer- 
ally recognized much confusion regarding 
punds and colors would have been avoided.,! 

1 r 

*ainting as an art is in the same class with 
lusic, but as a science, music is far in advance 
f the other fine arts. For this reason various 
3rms have been borrowed from the nomencia- 
ire of music for the purpose of describing coi- 
rs and their arrangements in various arts, 
'hus an analogy has been formulated and has 
radually outgrown its legitimate boundaries. 
With this analogy as a background many 



264 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

have misapplied a scanty and inaccurate know 
edge of the science of color and of sound wit 
the result that various conclusions regardin 
color-harmony and ** color-music*' have bee 
built upon untenable assumptions. Unforti 
nately, Newton, after his epoch-making/exper 
ment in which he revealed the spectrumy5f su] 
light, gave seven color-names to the &pectrj 
colors, namely, violet, indigo, blue/ gree: 
yellow, orange and red. Speculators have a 
sociated these seven color-names with the seve 
notes of the musical scale. v3EeLare able to S( 
more than a hundred differ entjiues in the who 
visible spectrum and it was purely accident 
that Newton applied seven names to it. Doub 
less he applied these names for no other pui 
pose than to provide terms^pr approximate) 
describing or denoting JJia various spectr, 
regions. Since Newton *s time the name, indigj 
hasBeen generally dropped from the seriel 
In fact it is not uncommon to use merely tH 
terms red, yellow, green, and blue as descriptrj 
of the conspicuous spectral colors. When di 
cussing color from the viewpoint of color-mi: 
ture it is convenient to use only the names, re 
green, and blue. 

It is quite unsound to relate the seven colol 
named by Newton to the seven notes of tl 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 265 

msical scale for various other reasons. A 
igbly important one is the absence of a very 
Dnspicuous and appealing color — purple — from 
lis series. Furthermore, it must be recog- 
ized that even our musical scale is arbitrary, 
•ur octave consists of a chromatic scale of 
^elve notes, the smallest interval being a half- 
)ne, but this is not universal. There is no 
bsolute scale and therefore, notwithstanding 
le present standardization of the musical scale 
mong many peoples, it must be recognized that 
1 developing schemes for color-harmony or for 
3lor-music it is dangerous to use a foundation 
lat is not perfectly stable or absolute. 
The is^^hat^oih sounds and-colors- are as- 
Dciated \^ith wave-theories has also been used 
p add to ( th e confusion ; however, there are 
lany reasons why this fact cannot be used in 
])nnecting sounds and colors. Sounds are 
|ropagated in the form of waves in a material 
tedium but light-waves are only supposed to be 
ransmitted by a medium which is assumed to 
idst.^ Furthermore, scientists disclaim any 
meral similarity between sound-waves and 
^ht-waves; in fact the two kinds of wave-mo- 
Dn are quite different in character. The wave- 
eories fit beautifully into the analogy if the 
tter is not pressed too far but are worthless 



266 THE LANGUAGE OP COLOR 

in relating sounds and colors fundamentally 

f* A. notable difference between the sense o 

/hearing and of sight is that the former i 

/analytic and the latter is synthetic in operatior 

I In other words, the ear is able to analyze a mis 

I tnre of tones (a chord) into its components, bn 

V^the eye cannot analyze a mixture of colors 

Many examples of the synthetic nature of visid 

have been presented in preceding chapters. ] 

red and green lights be mixed a yellow sensf 

tion results ; that is, if a pigment reflected onl 

red and green rays it would appear yello\^ 

Failure to consider this great difference be 

tween these two senses has led many into ver 

unsound theorizing. 

The affective values of auditory sensatior 
differ very much. For example some very lo 
tones are decidedly unpleasant owing to thei 
intensity or volume and many tones of ver 
high pitch are unpleasant owing to their sligi 
extensity and piercing effect. * The affecthi 
value of visual sensations also varies consider 
ably for the different colors but to those wl 
would cling to a relationship between soun^ 
and colors it may be stated that no such ui 
pleasantness is experienced with colors of e: 
tremely long and short wave-lengths iiespei 
lively as in the case of sounds. Colors aJ| 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 267 

represented by about one octave, the wave- 
length of the extreme red being about twice that 
of the extreme violet ; however, sounds that are 
audible to the human ear are represented by 
many octaves. 

Various attempts have been made to establish 
laws of color-harmony on the basis of the har- 
mony of sounds. These efforts have usually in- 
volved the use of the ^* similarities" described 
in the foregoing paragraphs; however, there 
are some of interest because of the more novel 
modes of attack. In one case the chief thesis 
appears to be that harmonic relations are built 
on the basis of notes whose overtones are most 
alike. For example, the relation of C to F on 
the musical scale is found to be the closest and 
this numeric relation is expressed as %. The 
spectrum is conceived to be analogous to the 
musical octave with the upper note omitted, that 
is, from C to B inclusive. By then applying 
the ratio % to the wave-lengths of the spectral 
colors it is concluded that the most harmonious 
combinations of color result. If the facts of 
color-harmony bear out this mathematical re- 
lation it would be of interest, but even then the 
relation could be considered not more than an 
.analogy at best. It is difficult to place purple 
into such a scheme because it does not appear 



268 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

in the spectrum, however, this color cannot be 
overlooked as a factor in color-harmony j! 
There are many reasons, in musical theory, why 
certain mathematical ratios are fundamentally 
important, but it is difficult to see why an- 
alogous conditions should prevail in the visible 
spectrum which is so much shorter in range of 
wave-lengths than the range of audible sound- 
waves. 

At this point it may be of interest to note J 
that Helmholtz and others have determined thai 
ratios of the wave-lengths of complementary; 
spectral colors and found no simple relation.! 
Helmholtz found this ratio to vary from 1.2 tol 
1.34. This variation in musical notation would: 
correspond to the relation of a note and its 
fourth and to that between a note and its 
diminished third for the extreme ratios. Thisj 
is one more fact which condemns any chromatie 
theory which is founded upon a musical basisj 

After having been fore-warned of the dangers^ 
of extending the analogy between sounds and! 
colors let us consider the analogy somewhat 
further within legitimate limits because of the 
possible guidance which it may afford in prose- 
cuting experiments in color-music. Sounds are 
given significance in speech by the successioD 
of words comprising a phrase or sentence; in 



M 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 269 

music by the melody or succession of musical 
notes or chords. Harmony is due to the co- 
existence of several concords and music results 
from a succession of tones. We experience 
great pleasure from harmony (simultaneity) 
of colors, but will we ever be able to experience 
pleasure to a comparable degree by melody 
(succession) of colors? We can enjoy music 
without harmony, but will we ever be able to en- 
joy colors to a comparable degree without har- 
mony, that is, by melody alone? The question 
can only be answered after extensive experi- 
ments. 

Such experiments were not possible on an ex- 
tensive scale until the advent of powerful arti- 
ficial light-sources which may account for the 
lack of development of melodies of colors. We 
enjoy to some extent the play of color on a stage 
isetting or as an accompaniment to the dance 
lif the melody is *^well rendered." It need not 
be discouraging to admit our present inabil- 
ity to interpret completely such a melody of 
color. Modern music evolved from chaos many 
centuries ago yet we are still quite ignorant of 
the philosophy of its representative or allego- 
rical power. The expressiveness of color in 
painting is perhaps equally as well understood, 
and in many respects color ranks with music 



270 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

in relation to our understanding. From such 
a viewpoint we are encouraged to hope and even| 
to expect that some day mankind will be enter-l, 
tained by the rendition of color-melody in which" 
harmony and rhythm will also be interwoven. 

It will be necessary to introduce the element 
of harmony in a manner which will overcome 
the non-analytic nature of the visual process. 
The colors which are introduced simultaneously 
for obtaining harmony must occupy different 
positions spatially, but the introduction of 
rhythm should be no more difBcult than in the 
case of music. Whether or not, in the rhythm 
of color-music, the time-rates will be compa- 
rable in general with those employed in sound- 
music is a question that cannot be answered at 
present with any degree of certainty. From 
various considerations it appears that_Jth§j 
rTiythmfc movements of colors must be slower 
ffian^those^hich play such an important part 
in' or di nary^ music. The richness of colors is' 
often heightened when the images of those dif- 
fering considerably in hue are permitted t^ 
impinge upon the retina at a moderate rate of 
succession. When this rate is too rapid the 
colors blend into a resultant color, but doubt- 
less there is a range of speed which is satisfac- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 271 

tory for various color-phrases depending upon 
the hues and brightnesses. 

The ' leading elements in sound-music are 
rhythm, melody, harmony, tone-quality, and 
dynamic contrast. In experimenting with 
color-music these elements must be borne in 
mind though their relations are likely to be con- 
siderably altered to allow for the fundamental 
differences between the visual and auditory 
senses. The normal adult person is able to 
experience more than 10,000 tones and many 
simple noises and these auditory sensations 
possess attributes of quality and intensity. 
Among the latter is that of extensity, a low 
tone being large and a high tone being small. 
It has been stated by certain psychologists that 
there are many points of resemblance between 
tones and achromatic sensations and between 
noises and colors. If the latter resemblance is 
too close the possibility of the development of 
color-music would be seriously doubted, but it 
does not appear that this is true. 

We need only to consider ordinary music to 
reach the conclusion that rhythmic experiences 
are much more agreeable than those which are 
non-rhythmic. Irregularities must be either 
avoided or compensated. The human organism 



272 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

seems to demand a certain degree of rhythm 
and it is noteworthy that many natural phe- 
nomena, bodily processes, and human activities 
are rhythmic. It is possible that these account 
for our appreciation of psychological rhythm. 
It should be noted, however, that a sudden turn 
in a line of a sculpture or painting often affords 
a pleasant surprise or plays the role of an 
accent or emphasis. 

Musical tones vary in their quality and this- 
great diversity enriches the harmony. In the 
myriad combinations of these qualities exists a 
variety which, with the aid of the other 
elements, makes music ever pleasurable. 
Colors also vary in quality and appear to 
possess similar possibilities. Will the human 
organism ever be able to adapt itself to an en- 
joyment of color-music? This is the most im- 
portant question to be solved by experiment. 

In the preceding, colors and sounds have been 
considered in parallel and the discussion has 
been aimed chiefly at the possibility of colors 
affording suflficient pleasure to encourage the 
development of color-music — an independent 
art. It is of interest to digress at this point 
to discuss the possibility of uniting colors with 
sound-music in a fundamental manner. Experi- 
ments of this nature have been made and al- 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 273 

though the author subscribes heartily to the 
idea of experiment it is unfortunate that, inten- 
tionally or otherwise, the impression has pre- 
vailed that these were finished products evolved 
in the minds of certain geniuses who possess a 
knowledge of the language of color far superior 
to those who have given years to its study. 
The aim of this book is to review the available 
facts of the language of color and to discuss as 
clearly as possible the relation that such an art 
must bear to the science of color. It is hoped 
that this discussion as a whole will point out 
these rudiments and a general consistency in 
the expressiveness of the various colors. Be- 
yond this it is impossible to extend the discus- 
sion except for a few suggestions pointing 
toward the future. 

In relating color-music and sound-music 
many points must be borne in mind. Although 
it is difficult to apply numerical values to the 
affective values of colors and to tones, it is 
possible to form an idea of the emotive value of 
colors in general as compared to music. A per- 
son may experience pleasure at the sight of a 
single color, a color-harmony, or a sequence of 
colors, but the degree of pleasure is not com- 
parable with that experienced on listening to a 
symphony orchestra or even to a piano selec- 



274 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

tion. If colors are to compete for favor with 
music when they are rendered simultaneously it 
appears likely that the colors must occupy large 
areas — so large that they provide the ^^at- 
mosphere." Colors played on a relatively 
small surface are conspicuous in their feeble- 
ness when competing with a musical rendition. 
From experience it appears that this is a very 
important point to be considered at the present 
time. 

It should also be noted that many psycho- 
logical factors must be considered when com- 
bining colors with music. The question arises, 
does color enhance the power of music! Data 
are lacking which would settle this question al- 
though from conversation with persons who 
have witnessed colors accompanying music, one 
is led to believe that the value of colors in this 
role is doubtful. However, colors have not 
been combined with music in the most effective 
way as indicated in the preceding paragraph 
and until this is done the combination of colors 
and music cannot be condemned. Experiments 
by the author on both small and large scales in- 
dicate that colors can enhance the agreeable- 
ness of music although other factors were 
usually present so that no definite conclusion 
can be reached. Both vision and audition are 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 275 

stimulated in the case of a dance accompanied 
by music, but rhythm is the dominant element 
3ommon to both senses. When music is accom- 
panied by colors this element is also present, 
but color alone is supposed to be an important 
factor. In such a case it must still remain an 
open question whether colors diminish or en- 
hance the power of music. 

In closing this discussion of colors and music 
it is of interest to refer to a scientific investi- 
gation bearing upon the subject. Keith has 
studied the mutual influence of feelings and has 
presented results of a long series of experi- 
nents with two subjects on the hedonic ranking 
of various colors, tone-combinations, and sur- 
jfaces actively or passively touched. Twenty- 
i5even tone-combinations and fourteen of each 
)f the other groups were separately given their 
/alues in the conventional scale of seven de- 
crees of pleasantness-unpleasantness, after 
vhich the members of each group were com- 
)ined in turn with those of the other groups and 
issigned values under these conditions. The 
esults indicate that combining colors and tones 
owers the agreeableness of both and combining 
lolors and passive touch or tones and active 
ouch raises the agreeableness of both in both 
ases. For the other combinations the results 



276 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR ! 

were not sufficiently consistent to warrant an^ 
conclusions. A few investigations have beei 
performed which would add interesting datf 
if this discussion were broadly extended, but oi 
the whole the data of direct interest are verj 
meager. 



k 



FINALE 

WHAT is the future of the language of 
color? The answer depends upon the 
degree of progress made in several directions. 
It cannot be denied that its rudiments exist to- 
day and that there is a general consistency in 
the interpretations of it by qualified individuals. 
There appears to be no reason apparent at pres- 
ent why appreciation and understanding of this 
rudimentary language should not become as 
prevalent and as definite as that of music. At 
this point it is well to note that, although music 
is quite generally appreciated, its representa- 
tive power is only vaguely understood. As 
compared with music in this respect the lan- 
guage of color is relatively not extremely vague, 
polor is perhaps as generally liked to-day as 
nusic, but in a less definite manner. In order 
;o extend the use of the language of color it is 
lecessary to learn more of its rudiments and 
standardize them, if possible, by consistent 
isage. It is also necessary that a general un- 
ierstanding of it be attained by mankind before 
t can be greatly extended. Finally, it must be 
'etermined whether or not the human organism 

277 



278 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

can adapt itself to an art of mobile color in 
which color plays the overwhelmingly dominant 
role. Experiments are the only means of de- 
termining the unanswered questions, but these 
experiments should be conducted by those hav^ 
ing a wide acquaintance with the many aspects 
of color. 

Heretofore color has not played a leading 
role. Line and form have usually produced g 
setting in which colors have supplied the dra^ 
pery and atmosphere. If color is given the lead-; 
ing role will it, with the aid of such factors as 
rhythm, be able to please mankind in a mannei : 
comparable with music? Again we must reson 
to thoughtful experiment. Colors please m 
greatly in painting, in decoration, as an accom 
paniment to the dance, and in many settings . 
■©Often it is the mobile color such as is witnessec 
at sunset or on the stage that appeals most t( 
us. Experiments should prove whether or nol ! 
mobile color can be made more effective anc ' 
finally be able to play a dominant role. Some 
conducted by the author have indicated that ihn 
thoughtful rendition of mobile color has th( 
power to please us greatly. ! 

It is interesting to inquire as to what i 
*' color-score" of an art of mobile color woul( 
be like. It is too early to give much time t( 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 279 

such speculation but no start can be made in 
experimenting without first formulating some 
idea of a simple color-melody. The expressive- 
ness of colors taken individually must be con- 
sidered first. These might then be woven into 
a simple melody in which rhythm, both in time 
and in intensity, would be introduced. So far, 
definite form need not enter, however upon the 
introduction of harmony it is impossible to es- 
cape from the introduction of form. Colors 
must be separated in the visual field in order to 
harmonize them so that this brings up the ques- 
tion of the character and magnitude of the field 
upon which to play the colors. Tones meet 
with no such difficulty in sound-music because 
jthey can be emitted simultaneously into space. 
[However, the eye, being a synthetical instru- 
|ment, makes demands which the ear does noj 
iMany possibilities pertaining to methods of pro- 
iducing colors and of displaying them become 
lapparent to those familiar with the science of 
:color. These have been discussed elsewhere 
and do not fall within the province of this book. 
Experiments need not be confined only to mo- 
bile color. An obvious means of evolving an 
art predominantly of color or an art of mobile 
color is by using color more definitely and pow- 
erfully in the many arts in which it is now a 



280 THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 

conspicuous though subordinate factor. By 
basing the uses of color in these augmented 
roles upon the sound though meager knowledge 
of its expressiveness which is available to-day, 
progress will be made toward that possible goal 
which experiment alone will be able to reveal 
if it exists. 

It is unsafe to extend this discussion further 
because we are approaching the realm of specu- 
lation. Notwithstanding the hint of specula- 
tion that may appear to some in the title of this 
book, an aim which has been foremost in the 
author 's mind has been to deal only with facts 
and to enter the field of speculation only as far 
as the limits of the province of suggestion. 
Lest the boundaries of the latter be crossed, the 
discussion for the present will be closed with a 
brief resume of the tools available by the futur- 
ist in the highest possible development of the 
language of color — namely, the art of mobile 
color. 

The character of the available material re- 
garding the expressiveness of color has been 
outlined in this book. Scientific research will 
doubtless contribute much of interest regarding 
the emotive values of colors. Experimental re- 
search will reveal the most successful methods 
of presenting colors in order that their full 



THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR 281 

powers will be exercised. The factors that may 
be woven into such a possible art are simultane- 
ous and successive contrasts in brightness and 
in hue, sequences in hue, tints, and shades, 
rhythm, spatial relations, and many minor fac- 
tors more or less related. Will a mobile-color- 
ist of the future be able to ** blend the fair tints, 
and awake the vocal string^' of approbation? 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

. . . II 

The following list includes a number of ref- 
erences which have been mentioned -in the 
text : — 

Bradford, E. J. G.. .Amer. J. of Psych. 24, 1913, 545. 

Chevreul, M. E Color, 1835. 

Clement, C. E Legendary and Mythological Art. 

Cohn, J Phil. Stud. 15, 1900, 279. 

Fairholt Dictionary of Terms in Ai;t. 

Gordon, Kate Psych. Rev. 19, 1912, 352. 

Hulme.*^-^^ *,.._».,_. Symbolism in Christian Art 

Jastrow Pop. Sci. Mo. 50, 361. ^ 

Luckiesh, ]\£ — ..-^Color and Its Applications, 1915;___ 

McDonald, J. D Sounds and Colors, 1867. """ 

Minor, A Psych. Bui. 7, 1910, 247. 

Miinsterberg, H General and Applied Psychology. 

Neff, E. C Christian Symbolism. 

Pressey, S. L Trans. I. E. S. 11, 1916, 643. 

Raymond, G. S Sounds and Color. JL 

Starch, D Advertising. ' " « 

Washburn, M. F....Amer. J. of Psvch. 22, 1911, 112 and 

578; 24, 1913, 267. 

Wells, N. A Psych. Bui. 7, 1910, 181. 

Woodworth, R. S... Psych. Bftl 7, 1910, 325. 

Owing to the scope of this subject it is out of 
the question to give a comprehensive bibliog- 
raphy but these references will reveal others. 
The textbooks of color and the jourmN and 
textbooks of psychology will be helpful to those 
who wish to investigate further the various sci- 
entific aspects of the subject. ^. 

282 



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