Gottfried Wilhelm Osann (1833, 1836) on Simultaneous Color Contrast: Translation and Commentary

Robert P. O'Shea (Lead / Corresponding author), Urte Roeber, Nicholas J. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)


Gottfried Wilhelm Osann (1796-1866) was a German scientist most renowned for his work in chemistry and physics. However, inspired by Goethe's work on color, he published a paper on simultaneous color contrast in 1833 using a method that is similar to that of later authors: reflection of an achromatic spot from an angled piece of glass. He wrote at least four more papers on color contrasts, in 1836 using essentially the same method as credited to others. We provide a description and translation of Osann's 1833 paper and the relevant part of his 1836 paper, say why these papers are interesting and important, give some biographical information about Osann, comment on the fate of Osann's papers, and describe Osann's other papers on color.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Journal article
  • Color perception
  • Simultaneous color contrast
  • Optical superimposition
  • Tachistoscope
  • Methods for research in visual perception
  • Osann
  • History


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