A significant acquisition to the Cooper Hewitt Library’s special collections in 2014 was Édouard Guichard’s Die Harmonie der Farben (The Harmony of Colors). A rare and important work heavily influenced by the 1839 De la loi du contraste simulanté des Couleurs by M.E. Chevreul, this edition was published in Frankfurt Germany in 1882. Profusely illustrated with exquisite designs in stunning colors, it features 166 color plates, 8 of which are double pages for a total of 1300 color combinations. There is a mixture of printing techniques utilized by the publisher, including 135 plates executed in the pochoir stenciling process.

Édouard Guichard promoted the concept of color harmony for the design of wallpaper, curtains, upholstery and paint schemes in architecture and interior design. Guichard’s personal preferences are meant to inspire and help others in making tasteful color decisions at a time when synthetic dyes were expanding exponentially in the marketplace.

This book is extremely rare, with only eight copies held in other libraries: six in Germany, one in the British Library and one in the United States at Berkeley. Nine copies of the original French edition are held worldwide. Cooper Hewitt’s copy will be featured in an upcoming Smithsonian Libraries’ exhibition on Color opening in January 2016 at the National Museum of Natural History.

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