Our exciting collaboration with the Natural History Museum is inspired by Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, the original book which classified colour in nature and was an indispensable tool for Charles Darwin, as he recorded his findings from the 1831–36 voyage of HMS Beagle.

Today, it serves as the inspiration for our new collection. Colour by Nature features 16 colours drawn directly from the natural world, all created in our eco-friendly water based paints to help you bring the true colours of nature into your home. Keep reading below for the fascinating story behind the collaboration.


The Book

Werner's Nomenclature of Colour

The Colour by Nature colour card with Werner’s original blues

The story of the Colour by Nature collection has been over two centuries in the making, beginning with the publication of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. A ground-breaking classification of colour in nature, Werner’s Nomenclature recorded in painstaking detail the exact hues and corresponding parts of animals, vegetables and minerals from across the natural world, becoming a treasured resource for scientists and artists alike.

Perhaps most famously, a copy of the book accompanied Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle in 1831 where, in a pre-photographic age of an ever-expanding world, it gave him the tools to describe his findings.

Today, an early copy of Werner’s Nomenclature sits in the rare book library of the Natural History Museum, where it became the inspiration for our new collection. Each of Colour by Nature’s 16 shades, from jewel-toned Lake Red to earthy Broccoli Brown, is meticulously drawn from this one volume to create an exciting new palette.

It wasn’t merely its status as the original reference for colour in nature that drew us to Werner’s Nomenclature, but its charming classifications and delightfully diverse range of influences – not unlike our very own colour cards. With colour references including ‘White of the Human Eyeballs’ (Skimmed Milk White) and ‘Beauty Spot on Wing of Teal Drake’ (Emerald Green), our colour creators felt right at home among its pages.

 



Get the Kids Involved

Why should our colour creators have all the fun?
Budding colour hunters can get involved with their own Colour by Nature activity sheets – download yours below.

Get the sheets

Get the Kids Involved

Why should our colour creators have all the fun? Budding colour hunters can get involved with their own Colour by Nature activity sheets – download yours below.

Get the sheets


The Curator

The Natural History Museum’s Andrea Hart with Charlotte Cosby

As Head of Special Collections in the Museum Library, it’s fair to say that Andrea Hart is more familiar with Werner’s Nomenclature than most. We sat down with Andrea to talk about the book that started it all, her day-to-day life at the museum, and her top tips for aspiring colour hunters.



Tell us about Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours – what is it that makes it so special?

The story of Werner’s Nomenclature starts in 1774 with a publication by influential German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner, who sought to establish a classification system for the colours of minerals. Scottish painter Patrick Syme built off this original work, adding animal and vegetable examples and creating the text that’s still loved by scientists and artists today.

Previous colour charts had been designed for artists, while Syme’s publication established a standardised and common colour terminology that was designed to be portable for scientific fieldwork. It was most famously used by Charles Darwin on the 1831-36 voyage of HMS Beagle.

It’s also the charm of Werner’s Nomenclature that makes it so special, from its poetic names to the care taken in its preparation. Syme committed much time to ensuring his colour mixtures were stable, with each painted onto a sheet which was then cut up and the individual swatches pasted into every book for consistency.

The Curator

The Natural History Museum’s Andrea Hart with Charlotte Cosby

As Head of Special Collections in the Museum Library, it’s fair to say that Andrea Hart is more familiar with Werner’s Nomenclature than most. We sat down with Andrea to talk about the book that started it all, her day-to-day life at the museum, and her top tips for aspiring colour hunters.



Tell us about Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours – what is it that makes it so special?

The story of Werner’s Nomenclature starts in 1774 with a publication by influential German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner, who sought to establish a classification system for the colours of minerals. Scottish painter Patrick Syme built off this original work, adding animal and vegetable examples and creating the text that’s still loved by scientists and artists today.

Previous colour charts had been designed for artists, while Syme’s publication established a standardised and common colour terminology that was designed to be portable for scientific fieldwork. It was most famously used by Charles Darwin on the 1831-36 voyage of HMS Beagle.

It’s also the charm of Werner’s Nomenclature that makes it so special, from its poetic names to the care taken in its preparation. Syme committed much time to ensuring his colour mixtures were stable, with each painted onto a sheet which was then cut up and the individual swatches pasted into every book for consistency.


The Collection

As well as working beautifully together, the 16 shades of Colour by Nature are designed to sit effortlessly alongside our core collection of 132 colours, our handcrafted wallpapers, and our four tones of Primer & Undercoat, opening up even more possibilities for bringing the true colours of nature into your home.

Blended with the same eco-friendly water base as the rest of our range, the Colour by Nature collection is safe for your world and everyone who shares it, all the while delivering exceptional vibrancy, durability and coverage in a choice of five interior finishes.

Just like our iconic collection of 132 colours, you’ll find that inspiration abounds for how to use our new hues. Open your colour card or consult each product page for easy-to-use scheme ideas from our colour experts, or pick up a copy of The Chromologist for beautiful images of rooms painted in the colours of nature. If you’re lucky enough to live near a showroom or stockist, you can also get inspiring ideas direct from the colour experts – head to our Events page to see what’s happening near you.



See the Colours


Ready to explore the palette? Head back to the Colour by Nature page below.

See the colours

See the Colours


Ready to explore the palette? Head back to the Colour by Nature page below.

See the colours