9 Color System

Tobias Mayer’s color theory.
The mixing ratio of the colors red, yellow and blue in the color triangle indicates Mayer as a mathematical formula. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Göttingen, 1775.
Color system (Listen to text)

The Mayer color system is represented in a triangle with the colors red, blue and yellow at the corners. From this all other colors are mathematically derived. The theory of colors also has to do with cartography: when coloring the black and white copperplate prints, it was important to always use the same colors that could be determined by the color calculation.



The print is initially black and white. Women were employed to color the maps. In order to be able to specify the appropriate color, Tobias Mayer developed his own color scheme. For the first time he reported on his theory of colors in 1758 in a public lecture at the University of Göttingen, but it was published in 1775 posthumously by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. The color system is based on three basic colors, from the mixture of which all the rest are created: red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors are mixed in either two or three primary colors. White and Black are not one of the „simple“ colors, but create by admixture with the secondary Colors paler or darker colors. The respective mixture is given in a formula in which for the Colors the letters r, g, b are used and the ratio is given in an exponent. Pigments were used to mix colors.