FIELD, George (?1777-1854)

Scope and Content

Papers of George Field, comprising photographs and colour slides of five notebooks, [1804-1825], covering all aspects of colour making.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Field: born, Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire in about 1777; educated at St Peter's School, Berkhampstead; experimented with the application of chemistry to pigments and dyes; successfully cultivated madder, (a plant cultivated for dye); invented a 'physeter' or percolator acting by air pressure to produce coloured lakes or pigments; awarded the Society of Arts' gold Isis medal for the percolator, 1816, (the apparatus is described by in Society of Arts Transactions , xxxiv pp 87-94); continued to work on preparing colours for use by artists; other inventions included a metrochrome and conical lenses; died, Isleworth, Middlesex, 1854.
Publications: Chromatics; or, an Essay on the analogy and harmony of colours (Newman, London, 1817); Chromatography, or, A treatise on colours and pigments, and of their powers in painting (London, 1835); Ethics; or, the analogy of the Moral Sciences indicated ; Outlines of Analogical Philosophy, being a primary view of the principles, relations and purposes of Nature, Science, and Art 2 vols (London, 1839); Rudiments of the Painter's Art: or, a Grammar of Colouring (London, 1850); Tritogenea, or, A brief outline of the universal system ; Dianoia. The third Organon attempted, or, Elements of Logic and subjective philosophy ; Aesthetics, or, the analogy of the sensible sciences indicated: with an appendix on light and colors ; The analogy of the physical sciences indicated ; Society of Arts Transactions , xxxiv pp 87-94.


The collection is uncatalogued.

Access Information

Initial applications should be made to the Deputy Librarian, Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R ORN. At least one week's notice is generally required for access to archival material.

Other Finding Aids

A list is available at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Archivist's Note

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Courtauld Institute of Art catalogue; British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97; Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Material may be photocopied subject to the approval of the Librarian or Archivist, and provided it does not breach the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1988.

Custodial History

The notebooks, which were kept by George Field between 1804 and 1825, were given by him to his friend and assistant Henry Charles Newton, before Field's death in 1854. The notebooks remained in the possession of the Newton family until 1971, when they were given into the custody of Winsor & Newton, the firm founded by Henry Newton. Two years later the note books were lent to the Courtauld Institute, where photographic records were made of every page, and colour slides made of the results of Field's experiments with pigments. In 1984, with the agreement of the Newton family, the notebooks were returned to Winsor & Newton's headquarters in Middlesex, for display in their museum.

Location of Originals

The Artists' Colourmen's Room at the Winsor & Newton company headquarters, in Wealdstone, near Harrow, Middlesex.


Journal of the Society of Archivists vol 5 1974 p42