Moses Harris

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Moses Harris (15 April 1730 – c.1788) was an English entomologist and engraver.[1]

Moses Harris

Contributions to science[edit]

In the Natural System of Colours (1766) he examined the work of Isaac Newton and tried to reveal the multitude of colours which can be created from three basic ones. As a naturalist, Harris wished to understand the relationships between the colours, and how they are coded, and his book attempted to explain the principles, "materially, or by the painters art", by which further colours can be produced from red, yellow and blue. Harris showed what is now known as the subtractive mixing of colours, with his most important observation showing that black will be formed through the superimposition of the three basic colours. Harris also discovered petrified wood.

In 1778, Harris discovered the Muscina levida [assimilis] species of fly. Two years later in 1780, he followed with a discovery of the Muscina prolapsa species of fly. [2]

Pictures of Muscina prolapsa and Muscina levida flies[edit]


  • Natural System of Colours (1766)
  • The Aurelian or natural history of English insects (1766, 2nd edn 1775)
  • The English Lepidoptera, or, the Aurelian's Pocket Companion (1775)
  • An exposition of English insects (1776[-80])
  • Copper plates for Dru Drury's 'Illustrations of Natural History..'

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Mays, Robert (2004). "Harris, Moses (1730–c.1788)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12413. Retrieved 2012-02-06.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ "ITIS Standard Report Page: Muscina." Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 11 Mar. 2009 <>