Item #1669 Uber die Theorie der zusammengesetzten Farben in Annalen der Physik und Chemie 87 pp. 45–66, 1852 [FOUNDATION OF MODERN UNDERSTANDING OF COLOR VISION]. Hermann Helmholtz.

Uber die Theorie der zusammengesetzten Farben in Annalen der Physik und Chemie 87 pp. 45–66, 1852 [FOUNDATION OF MODERN UNDERSTANDING OF COLOR VISION]

Leipzig: Amberosius Barth, 1852. First Edition. FIRST EDITION of the paper in which Hermann Helmholtz (1821–1894) laid the foundation for our modern understanding of color vision. This work had a profound impact on the fields of optics, physiology, and psychology. Helmholtz’s contributions to the theory of compound colors were instrumental in shaping subsequent research on color perception and the physiology of the visual system.

“Our modern understanding of color began with a set of experiments by Isaac Newton. In these experiments he used a prism to separate light into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Prior to Newton, people thought that color was a mixture of light and darkness, and prisms colored light. Newton demonstrated that light alone was responsible for color and that white light consisted of many colors” (Wenner, History of Physics, 98).

Not limiting his interest to light alone, Helmholtz was also interested in “the physics of pigments as well as light” in the phenomenon of color mixing, particularly how our eyes perceive colors when different wavelengths of light are combined (ibid). Toward that end, the paper explores the mathematical aspects of color mixing and the trichromatic theory. He discussed the principles governing the combination of colors and how different colors could be synthesized by mixing the three primary colors in varying proportions.

“He showed that yellow and blue light, when mixed, produced white instead of green; and yellow light itself, instead of being primary, is a mixture of red and green. This work was also the first to provide experimental evidence that white light could be produced from the three primary colors of light (red, green and blue). He was also able to explain why light did not behave like pigment by distinguishing between additive and subtractive color mixtures— combining two colors of light is an additive process, whereas combining two pigments is subtractive one, as each component pigment will absorb from the spectrum all but one color” (ibid).

“Helmholtz was "the last scholar whose work, in the tradition of Leibniz, embraced all the sciences, as well as philosophy and the fine arts" (DSB). During his long career Helmholtz made fundamental contributions to physiological optics and acoustics, hydrodynamics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics, and the philosophy of science” (Jeremy Norman, History of Science.” ALSO INCLUDED: Clausius, “Ueber die bei einem stationären elektrischen Strom in dem Lei- ter gethane Arbeit und erzeugte Wärme, pp. 415-427. Item #1669

CONDITION & DETAILS: Full volume. Complete. [4], 10, [616], 4. 3 fold-out plates. Handsomely rebound in three-quarter calf over marbled paper boards. Four gilt-ruled raised bands at the spine; black Morocco spine label. Tight, solid, and very clean. Ex-libris with minor interior markings; none on endpapers; none on exterior. The interior is bright and very clean. Near fine condition.

Price: $325.00

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