Theory of Colours

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Courier Corporation, Oct 6, 2006 - Art - 246 pages
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The wavelength theory of light and color had been firmly established by the time the great German poet published his Theory of Colours in 1810. Nevertheless, Goethe believed that the theory derived from a fundamental error, in which an incidental result was mistaken for a elemental principle. Far from affecting a knowledge of physics, he maintained that such a background would inhibit understanding. The conclusions Goethe draws here rest entirely upon his personal observations.
This volume does not have to be studied to be appreciated. The author's subjective theory of colors permits him to speak persuasively of color harmony and aesthetics. These notions may evoke a positive response on their merits, but even among those who regard them as pure fantasy, the grace and style of Goethe's exposition provide abundant rewards. Although his scientific reasoning on this subject has long since been dismissed, modern readers continue to appreciate the beauty and sweep of Goethe's conjectures regarding the connection between color and philosophical ideas. In addition, he offers insights into early nineteenth-century beliefs and modes of thought as well as a taste of European life during the Enlightenment.
 

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Main. He was greatly influenced by his mother, who encouraged his literary aspirations. After troubles at school, he was taught at home and gained an exceptionally wide education. At the age of 16, Goethe began to study law at Leipzig University from 1765 to 1768, and he also studied drawing with Adam Oeser. After a period of illness, he resumed his studies in Strasbourg from 1770 to 1771. Goethe practiced law in Frankfurt for two years and in Wetzlar for a year. He contributed to the Frankfurter Gelehrte Anzeigen from 1772 to 1773, and in 1774 he published his first novel, self-revelatory Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers. In 1775 he was welcomed by Duke Karl August into the small court of Weimar, where he worked in several governmental offices. He was a council member and member of the war commission, director of roads and services, and managed the financial affairs of the court. Goethe was released from day-to-day governmental duties to concentrate on writing, although he was still general supervisor for arts and sciences, and director of the court theatres. In the 1790s Goethe contributed to Friedrich von Schiller ́s journal Die Horen, published Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and continued his writings on the ideals of arts and literature in his own journal, Propyläen. The first part of his masterwork, Faust, appeared in 1808, and the second part in 1832. Goethe had worked for most of his life on this drama, and was based on Christopher Marlowe's Faust. From 1791 to 1817, Goethe was the director of the court theatres. He advised Duke Carl August on mining and Jena University, which for a short time attracted the most prominent figures in German philosophy. He edited Kunst and Altertum and Zur Naturwissenschaft. Goethe died in Weimar on March 22, 1832. He and Duke Schiller are buried together, in a mausoleum in the ducal cemetery.

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