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With Regard To The Perspective Of Colours Or The Manner In Which They

affect the eye, according to position and distance, it is a branch of
aerial perspective or the perspective of light and shade. This is
distinguished from linear perspective, or the perspective of drawing, as
drawing is from colouring; and they have progressed alike in the art.
The most ancient painters seem to have known little of either; and
linear perspective was established as science before the aerial, as
drawing and composition preceded colouring.

The perspective of colours depends upon their powers to reflect the
elements of light, powers which are by no means uniform. Accordingly,
blue is lost in the distance before red, and yellow is seen at a point
at which red would disappear; yet blue preserves its hue better than
yellow, because colours are cooled in the distance. In this respect,
the compound colours partake of the powers of their components, in
obedience to a general rule, by which local colours closely connected
with black are first lost in the distance, and those nearly related to
white disappear last. The same may be said of local light and shade, the
latter of which is totally lost at great distances; and it is for this
reason the shadowed side of the moon is not generally seen. These powers
of colours are, however, varied by mist, air, altitude, and mixture,
which produce evanescence; and by contrast, which preserves the force of
colours by distinguishing them. Colours do not decline in force so much
by height as by horizontal distance, because the upper atmosphere is
less dense and clouded with vapour: and hence it is that mountains of
great elevation appear much nearer than they really are. From all these
circumstances, it is evident that a simple scumbling or uniform
degradation of local colours will not effect a true perspective--for
this will be the aerial of light and shade only--but such a
subordination of hues and tints, as the various powers of colours
require, and as is always observable in nature.

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