Long before the days of annually featured colors with quirky names, there was this monster of a book by a mysterious artists that goes by A. Boogert. It comes in around 800 pages and features every color you can imagine—much like a grandaddy of the beloved Pantone color guide. Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel (talk about a job title) found this encyclopedia and quickly it lit up the Internet after he featured his find on his blog.
Kwakkel goes into more detail on where he found the book and what Boogert shared in the book on his blog:
I encountered this Dutch book from 1692 in a French database today and it turns out to be quite special. For one thing, no Dutch scholar appears to have published on it, or even to know about it. Moreover, the object is special because it provides an unusual peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators. In over 700 pages of handwritten Dutch, the author, who identifies himself as A. Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints. To illustrate his point he fills each facing page with various shades of the color in question. To top it he made an index of all the colors he described, which in itself is a feast to look at.
Pushing the charm factor even further is the way that the color mixing is described, by using "one, two or three portions of water" to come up with your desired hue. As mentioned before, this book has remained relatively undiscovered by modern-day historians. Kwakkel explains:
In the 17th century, an age known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, this manual would have hit the right spot. It makes sense, then, that the author explains in the introduction that he wrote the book for educational purposes. Remarkably, because the manual is written by hand and therefore literally one of a kind, it did not get the 'reach' among painters—or attention among modern art historians—it deserves.
Lucky for us, the entire book has been scanned in hi-res for our perusing pleasure. Check the entire encyclopedia out here and prepare to lose a bit of time.
Via My Modern Met