Joyce Dixon profile picture


History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research

Start date:


Mode of study:

Full time

Research title:

The Art and History of Werner's Nomenclature of Colours


Joyce Dixon is a PhD Candidate in History of Art, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Doctoral Training Partnership (awarded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities). Her research examines the historical development of colour classification and communication in the early nineteenth century, through the lens of a particular publication – Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, compiled in 1814 by Edinburgh horticultural painter Patrick Syme. Provisionally titled 'The Art and History of Werner's Nomenclature of Colours', Joyce's thesis explores the cultural influences on, and subsequent impact of, Patrick Syme's manual of colour.​

Before embarking on her PhD Joyce completed a Masters degree at the Royal College of Art, where she studied Critical Writing in Art and Design. Her thesis, an exploration of the linguistic aspects of Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, was awarded the 2015 Critical Writing in Art and Design Award for the Best Final Major Project. During her time at the Royal College of Art Joyce also co-edited the course publication Albertopolis Companion (2015). Joyce has delivered papers at Falmouth University, the Linnean Society of London and the Royal College of Art, and has written for a variety of books, journals and magazines. 


Tutor for History of Art 2 (2019–2020)


Research interests:​

  • Visual culture in natural history disciplines
  • Historical colour publications
  • The cultural context of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Edinburgh


Conference papers:

  • ‘From minerals to pigments, and Saxony to Scotland: The creation of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours (1814)’ (co-authored with Peter Davidson, National Museum of Scotland), Ordering Colours in 18th and Early 19th Century Europe Workshop, TU Berlin (19 June 2020)
  • ‘Azure Blue, Verdigris Green, Sulphur Yellow: The mineralogical origins of Patrick Syme’s Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours (1814)’, Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars, University of Edinburgh (5 March 2020)
  • ‘Snow White, Skimmed Milk and the White of the Human Eyeballs’, To See and Know More (University of Edinburgh / Bothy Project event) Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (31 January 2020)
  • ‘Colour, Word, Thing: Representing Natural Colour, 1760–1820’, Material and Visual Culture Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh (16 October 2019)
  • ‘From Nature: The Life and Works of Patrick Syme’, Nineteenth Century Research Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh (7 March 2019)
  • ‘Auricula Purple and Orpiment Orange: Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours and the Natural World’, Linnean Society Student Conference 2019, Linnean Society of London (1 February 2019)
  • 'Werner's Nomenclature of Colours', The Colour Canon (Colour Group GB / Colour Reference Library event), Royal College of Art (April 2017)
  • '2cm² of Blue', Falmouth University Illustration Forum: Blue, Falmouth University (March 2016)



  • 'Red, or a Closed Eyelid' in Future Fossil Flora, Issue 1 (2017)
  • ‘Bones Coral Made’ in Failed States: A Journal of Indeterminate Geographies, Issue 1 (2017)
  • 'The Hepworth Sculpture Prize' in Art Review (January 2017)
  • 'After Crystal Palace' in Albertopolis Companion, RCA Press (2015)
  • 'White’ in Of and For Turner Contemporary: Writings on a Building, RCA (2014)
  • 'The White of the Human Eyeballs, and Other Colours' in ARC #18 (2014)
  • ‘Field to Fashion’ in Selvedge, Issue 56 (January/February 2014)