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Four colours and the visual separation of adjacent areas: lessons from mapping and ancient paintings

Schott, G.D. (2021) Four colours and the visual separation of adjacent areas: lessons from mapping and ancient paintings. Journal of Art Historiography (24). ISSN 2042-4752

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URL of Published Version: https://arthistoriography.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/schott.pdf

Identification Number/DOI: https://doi.org/10.48352/uobxjah.00003430


That four colours were sufficient to differentiate adjacent countries on a map was a 19th century conjecture which has taken 150 years to prove mathematically. In a different sphere, and two and a half millennia earlier in Ancient Greece, many painters including Apelles favoured the use of four colours. A story recounted by Pliny in which three or four colours were used to differentiate thin lines, however, serves to link these seemingly disparate observations of the mathematical and the artistic. Furthermore, the use of such few colours to achieve differentiation of adjacent areas can thus be seen to date back to classical times, if not beyond.

Type of Work:Article
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
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This article is archived in ePapers for preservation purposes

Date:June 2021
Keywords:four colours, visual separation, mapping, ancient paintings
Subjects:N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Copyright Status:Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. Authors may subsequently archive and publish the pdfs as produced by the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Copyright restrictions apply to the use of any images contained within the articles. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
ID Code:3430
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