Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Color-coordinate system from a 13th-century account of rainbows

Smithson, Hannah; Anderson, Philip; Dinkova-Bruun, Greti; Gasper, Giles; Laven, Philip; McLeish, Tom; Panti, Cecilia; Tanner, Brian

Color-coordinate system from a 13th-century account of rainbows Thumbnail


Hannah Smithson

Philip Anderson

Greti Dinkova-Bruun

Philip Laven

Tom McLeish

Cecilia Panti


We present a new analysis of Robert Grosseteste’s account of color in his treatise De iride (On the Rainbow), dating from the early 13th century. The work explores color within the 3D framework set out in Grosseteste’s De colore [see J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 29, A346 (2012)], but now links the axes of variation to observable properties of rainbows. We combine a modern understanding of the physics of rainbows and of human color perception to resolve the linguistic ambiguities of the medieval text and to interpret Grosseteste’s key terms.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2014
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2014
Journal Journal of the Optical Society of America A.
Print ISSN 1084-7529
Electronic ISSN 1520-8532
Publisher Optica
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 4
Pages A341-A349
Public URL


Published Journal Article (3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2014 Optical Society of America. This paper was published in Journal of the Optical Society of America A and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations