William Jackson Hooker
You may have noticed the Twitter Updates section in the column over there to your right. Twitter is the mini-blog, instant messaging phenomenon that appears to be growing exponentially. I usually provide an update on Twitter a couple of times a day about what’s going on in my art “world, ” which may be of no interest to anyone except me.
Be that as it may, in a recent “tweet” I said mixing Antwerp blue and Hooker’s green watercolors makes for a pleasing turquoise. In jest, one response was, “Hooker’s green—what kind of painting are you doing?”
Since renewing my interest in art a couple of years ago, I remember seeing Hooker’s green named as a color in just about every popular medium—oil, acrylic, watercolor, and pastel.
That “tweet” also got me to thinking again about how certain colors got their names. But, as I often say, what do I know? I didn’t know where the name for Hooker’s green came from, so I thought I'd try to find out. Here’s what I learned:
Hooker’s Green is a music group and is the no.1 download of pop/electronica/indie music on Myspace. Oops--interesting, but nothing to do with the color or painting.
The freedictionary.com says it’s simply a mixture of Prussian blue and Gamboge. (I had previously researched Gamboge and posted a definition over to your right under Artists Factoids.) I then wondered why it’s called Prussian blue and could quickly see this becoming enigmatic, like a wheel within a wheel. But back to Hooker’s green.
The site handprint.com gives a very cold, scientific, chemical definition using the pigment (PG) C.I. number (click to see my blog about that subject) and saying something about four manufacturers mix it like PG7 and PG 36, but most artists prefer one pthalo green, and that it’s heavy staining, dark--blah, blah, blah…
On dictionary.com, finally I’m getting warmer--it says: Hooker’s green, origin 1850-1855, named after W. Hooker (died 1832), English illustrator.
So I then Googled the term "W. Hooker English illustrator."
Both Wikipedia and howstuffworks.com have nice write-ups on the life of William Jackson Hooker. Both sources said he was a renowned English botanist, an author, and a gifted botanical illustrator. He established a herbarium (whatever that is) in England that held more than a million species of dried plants and drew botanists from around the world. He also wrote and edited botanical journals including Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. But nothing about Hooker's green.
Then, on octavo.com I finally found information on his artwork and at last what I was really looking for. It says he was the finest English painter of fruit, and “Hooker even compounded a special pigment for the leaves, still sold to artists as ‘Hooker’s Green.’”
There you have it, from the OrbisPlanis!