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A 17th Century Paintbox

Deep in the archive of a French library is a wonderful and unique book.

In 1692 a Dutch man created what is possibly the very first colour chart in existence -  almost 300 years before the Pantone Colour Guide was launched and comprises of eight-hundred pages of hand painted samples, notes and formulas.

The Shop Floor Project is excited to have been granted permission to create a limited edition print collection from the pages of this remarkable book.

In the heady world of the Dutch Golden Age where Vermeer walked the busy canal streets, merchants sold exotic goods imported from the Dutch East India Company and wealthy patrons were having their portraits, property and interiors painted in the tall canal houses,  the author of the book tasked himself with creating an educational  resource which would show "how to mix the colours and how to change their tone by adding one, two or three portions of water".

The book is handwritten and a one-off, and as nothing is known the creator we can only imagine what the purpose of the book was used for; perhaps he was an art teacher or a paint merchant, but whatever the reason for its creation it is a thrilling window into one of the most exciting times in art history.

Aix-en-Provence, Bibliothèque Méjanes, Ms. 1389 (1228)