[A]n artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.
Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time.
“Its time” was 1692. Only a single copy was produced, for perhaps obvious reasons; it still exists and can be viewed online. I’ve never been to the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, but that’s where the actual book presently resides.