This is the color nearest the light. It appears on the slightest mitigation of light, whether by semi-transparent mediums or faint reflection from white surfaces. In prismatic experiments it extends itself alone and widely in the light space, and while the two poles remain separated from each other, before it mixes with blue to produce green it is to be seen in its utmost purity and beauty. How the chemical yellow develops itself in and upon the white, has been circumstantially described in its proper place.
In its highest purity it always carries with it the nature of brightness, and has a serene, gay, softly exciting character.
State is agreeable and gladdening, and in its utmost power is serene and noble…
As no color can be considered as stationary, so we can very easily augment yellow into reddish by condensing or darkening it. The color increases in energy, and appears in red-yellow more powerful and splendid.
All that we have said of yellow is applicable here, in a higher degree. The red-yellow gives an impression of warmth and gladness, since it represents the hue of the intenser glow of fire.
As yellow is always accompanied with light, so it may be said that blue still brings a principle of darkness with it.
This color has a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye. As a hue it is powerful — but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose.
As the upper sky and distant mountains appear blue, so a blue surface seems to retire from us.
But as we readily follow an agreeable object that flies from us, so we love to contemplate blue — not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.
Blue gives us an impression of cold, and thus, again, reminds us of shade. We have before spoken of its affinity with black.
The appearance of objects seen through a blue glass is gloomy and melancholy.
Blue deepens very mildly into red, and thus acquires a somewhat active character, although it is on the passive side. Its exciting power is, however, of a different kind from that of the red-yellow. It may be said to disturb, rather than enliven.
As augmentation itself is not to be arrested, so we feel an inclination to follow the progress of the color, not, however, as in the case of the red-yellow, to see it still increase in the active sense, but to find a point to rest in.
In a very attenuated state, this color is known to us under the name of lilac; but even in this degree it has a something lively without gladness.
The effect of this color is as peculiar as its nature. It conveys an impression of gravity and dignity, and at the same time of grace and attractiveness. The first in its dark deep state, the latter in its light attenuated tint; and thus the dignity of age and the amiableness of youth may adorn itself with degrees of the same hue.
History relates many instances of the jealousy of sovereigns with regard to the quality of red. Surrounding accompaniments of this color have always a grave and magnificent effect. The red glass exhibits a bright landscape in so dreadful a hue as to inspire sentiments of awe.”(1)
(1) Goethe J.W, Theory of Colours (2008), BLTC Press, Kindle Edition