Is In Reality We Grant That In Certain Objects Blue Is A Sign Of

distance, but that is not because blue, as a mere colour, is retiring;

but because the mist in the air is blue, and therefore any warm colour

which has not strength of light enough to pierce the mist is lost or

subdued in its blue. Blue in itself, however, is no more, on this

account, retiring, than brown is retiring, because when stones are seen

through brown water, the deeper they lie, the browner they appear.

Neither blue nor yellow nor red possesses, as such, the smallest power

of expressing either nearness or distance; they merely express

themselves under the peculiar circumstances which render them at the

moment, or in that place, signs of nearness or distance. Thus, purple in

a violet is a sign of nearness, because the closer it is looked at the

more purple is seen; but purple in a mountain is a sign of distance,

because a mountain close at hand is not purple, but green or grey. It

may, indeed, be generally assumed that a tender or pale colour will more

or less denote distance, and a powerful or dark colour nearness; but

even this is not always so. Heathery hills will usually give a pale and

tender purple near, and an intense or dark purple far away: the rose

colour of sunset on snow is pale on the snow at one's feet, but deep and

full on the snow in the distance; and the green of a Swiss lake is pale

in the clear waves on the beach, but intense as an emerald in the

sunstreak, six miles from shore. And in any case, when the foreground is

in strong light, with much water about it or white surface, casting

intense reflections, all its colours may be perfectly delicate, pale,

and faint; while the distance, when it is in shadow, may relieve the

whole foreground with deepest shades of purple, blue green, or

ultramarine blue.

There is one law, however, about distance, which has some claims to be

considered constant, namely, that dulness and heaviness of colour are

more or less indicative of nearness. All distant colour is pure colour:

it may not be bright, but it is clear and lovely, not opaque nor soiled;

for the air and light coming between us and any earthy or imperfect

colour, purify or harmonize it; hence a bad colourist is peculiarly

incapable of expressing distance. It is not of course meant that bad

colours are to be used in the foreground by way of making it come

forward; but only that a failure in colour there will not put it out of

its place. A failure in colour in the distance will at once do away with

its remoteness; a dull-coloured foreground will still be a foreground,

though coloured badly; but an ill-painted distance will not be merely a

dull distance, it will be no distance at all.

This seeming digression is not out of place, as it will enable the

artist better to understand that it is in their quality, not in their

hue, that colours are advancing or retiring; and that he must rely on

the depth, delicacy, &c., of his pigments, and not simply on their

colours, to produce effects of distance.

Of all colours, except black, blue contrasts white most powerfully. In

all harmonious combinations of colours, whether of mixture or

neighbourhood, blue is the natural, prime, or predominating power.

Accordingly, blue is universally agreeable to the eye in due relation to

the composition, and may more frequently be repeated therein, pure or

unbroken, than either of the other primaries; whence the employment of

ultramarine by some masters throughout the colouring of a picture.

Blue pigments, like blue flowers, are more rare than those of the other

primary colours. In permanent blues the palette is very deficient, the

list being exhausted when the native and artificial ultramarines and the

cobalts have been mentioned. That there is room for new blues, durable

and distinct, cannot therefore be denied. A good addition has been made

Is Important And Consists In The Blending And Gradating By Mixture Is Merely A Faded Blue The Blacks Are Both Of Vegetable And Mineral facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail