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Collection

An image of The de Mestre Colour Harmonising Chart by Roy de Maistre

Roy de Maistre

(Australia, England 27 Mar 1894 – 01 Mar 1968)

Title
The de Mestre Colour Harmonising Chart
Year
1924
sold from 1926
Media categories
Print, Mixed media
Materials used
commercially printed colour disc with 'major' and 'minor' masks, instructions in cardboard box
Dimensions

47.5 x 54.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Presented in memory of Cecily Gunz, 2013, who used The Harmonising Chart for her furniture and colour design work
Accession number
DA63.1968
Copyright
© Caroline de Mestre Walker
Location
Not on display
Further information

In 1919 Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin mounted the 'Colour in art' exhibition as a manifesto of the new colour expression in painting. The artists explored principles of colour harmony, pairing the hues of the colour spectrum with notes of the musical scale, propelling their work further towards dimensions of abstraction.

In a section of this exhibition titled 'Colour organisation in interior decoration' de Maistre exhibited a series of painted colour keyboards, discs and scales to demonstrate how the same principles of colour harmony that were used for artistic creation, could be applied to everyday life and interior design.

De Maistre interest in colour-music correspondences had commenced by 1917 when he worked with Dr Charles Gordon Moffit on colour schemes for rooms for shell shocked soldiers. Maintaining this earlier preoccupation with aligning well being and colour, de Maistre developed his 1919 colour-music system into 'The de Mestre Colour Harmonising Chart' which he patented in 1924 and sold through Grace Bros Department Store from 1926. The chart determined colour schemes by using a keynote colour, that with the aid of 'major' and 'minor' masks that were placed over a colour chart, shaped a chromatic palette or 'scale' of complementary and contrasting hues. It was promoted as a pragmatic 'new and scientific device for producing colour schemes' for dress, furniture and interior design.

'The Harmonising Chart' proved influential when first produced, and was adopted as a colour guide by interior designers. Artist-designer Thea Proctor for example used the chart as a didactic tool at her Sydney design school, influencing a generation of interior designers to develop bold colour schemes as a means of creating a modern and healthy ambience for the home.

Following the ideals of the Bauhaus and philosophies of British modernists such as Roger Fry, 'The de Mestre Colour Harmonishing Chart' evidences a period of Sydney modernism where artists sought to instil the values of abstract aesthetics in daily life by doubling as decorators. It is also the product of a period when colour chromatism was informing the bourgeoning movements of Australian modernism.

Bibliography (4)

Niels Hutchison, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Colour-Music – Decoding de Maistre: The colour-music code', pg.26-29, Paddington, 2008, 26-29. NOTE: General reference

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 142.

Annabel Pegus, Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, '2 Colour in art', pg. 16-21, Sydney, 2008, 18 (colour illus.).

Annabel Pegus and Nick Waterlow, Colour in art: Revisiting 1919, Paddington, 2008, 50 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003

Colour in Art - revisiting 1919:

Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013