Emily Tobias

Albert Henry Munsell

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Albert Henry Munsell was a painter, a teacher
and the founder of the Munsell Color System.

It is also important to note that his writings and teachings were
the foundation for other color systems that are still in use today.

His work also resulted in three books on the subject:

  • A Color Notation (1905)
  • Atlas of the Munsell Color System (1915)
  • A Grammar of Color: Arrangements of Strathmore Papers in a Variety of Printed Color Combinations According to The Munsell Color System (1921) (published posthumously).

The first color wheel Munsell created was the above circle with ten segments.

Using the circle with ten segments as a base he built up and out rather than simply staying on the wheel.
The notion of the color tree seems to be a real innovation because it seems to be closer to how our eyes actually perceive color.

One of the innovative things about Munsell is that
he separated hue value and chroma in a new and
sophisticated manner that has a 3-d element to it that
had not been seen before.

Another aspect of the system is the integration of Gray into the
Munsell System. In a way Munsell used gray (in its variations) as a vertical axis
with the different colors shooting off said axis.

Desire to fit a chosen contour, such as the pyramid, cone, cylinder or cube, coupled with a lack of proper tests, has led to many distorted statements of color relations, and it becomes evident, when physical measurement of pigment values and chromas is studied, that no regular contour will serve.
—Albert H. Munsell, “A Pigment Color System and Notation”[3]

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