Ferdinand Bauer’s Flora Graeca colour code

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Outside of the natural sciences, the work of Ferdinand Bauer, the pre-eminent 18th-century natural history painter is little known. However, his botanical and zoological paintings on paper are considered to be among the finest in the world. Of particular interest is the unusual drawing and painting technique he utilised, recording colour information on specimens by annotating preliminary pencil sketches with numerical colour codes to be painted at a much later stage referring directly to a painted colour chart. This paper discusses Bauer’s botanical illustration and his painting methods in the context of colour charts and systems developed by earlier naturalists. It documents Bauer’s technique and highlights the fact that if his watercolour paintings were created using this colour reference system, often many years after seeing the original specimens, and that they are highly regarded even today for their visual accuracy, it speaks to his expertise as an artist.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudying 18th-Century Paintings and Works of Art on Paper
Subtitle of host publicationCATS Proceedings, II, 2014
EditorsKimberley Muir, Helen Evans
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherArchetype Publications
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781909492233
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes

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