James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879)
J C Maxwell was a Scottish physicist, mathematician and, most importantly, a colour management guru.
In 1847 Maxwell was taken to see a scientific demonstration of light polarization using the mineral Iceland Spar. The 16 year-old was fascinated with this naturally occurring light filter.
He made his own optical instrument to explore the properties of Iceland Spar. The polarizing properties were insignificant -- his interest lay in being able to see things that were invisible to the naked eye.
Glass that was heated and then plunged into water could be placed in the instrument and the normally invisible stress lines would become beautiful and complex colour patterns.
Watercolour drawings that he made of the results are evidence of his intense interest in how physical stress inside materials affected how light travelled through them.
Light was posing other questions in the same era that Maxwell was making the invisible visible. It was known that powerful magnets could bend light beams and that some form of "invisible light" was able to heat objects and fog light sensitive papers. Could solving these problems lead to physic's first "unified theory"?
Maxwell's took a break from colour issues to answer the question of how electricity is generated by passing a coil of wire through a magnetic field. He came up with four equations to represent the relationship between electricity and magnetism.
His equations included a number which described the speed at which electromagnetic waves moved. It matched exactly the speed at which light moved which could only mean that electricity, magnetism and light were different forms of the same thing -- electromagnetic waves.
The nature of light was suddenly clear to Maxwell. The colours of the spectrum were electromagnetic waves vibrating at different frequencies. Red being the slowest vibrating frequency that the human eye can see and violet the fastest. The presence of "invisible" light was also explained with warming infra-red vibrating even more slowly than visible red light and being perceived as heat and the film-fogging ultra-violet just beyond the highest frequencies that the eye could detect.
Maxwell also hypothesized that colour images can be made using Red, Green and Blue filters. In 1861 he presented the world's first colour image during a Royal Institution lecture. The image was of a tartan ribbon and was formed by super-imposing three projected images with RGB filters.
I found this image of the original colour slides here: