Artists were fascinated by Newton’s clear demonstration that light alone was responsible for colour. His most useful idea for artists was his conceptual arrangement of colours around the circumference of a circle, which allowed the painters’ primaries (red, yellow, blue) to be arranged opposite their complementary colors (e.g. red opposite green), as a way of denoting that each complementary would enhance the other’s effect through optical contrast.
This circular diagram became the model for many color systems of the 18th and 19th centuries. Claude Boutet’s painter’s circle of 1708 was probably the first to be based on Newton’s circle.
Unable to represent spectral red with any pigment, Boutet substituted two reds – fire-red and crimson – omitting one of Newton’s two blues. To compound the confusion, the colorist evidently misread two of the labels, “orange” and “violet.”
~ from John Gage ~ Colour and Meaning - Art, Science and Symbolism