Latent Colour Not Immediately Apparent Apart From The Beauty Which A

wealth of colour imparts, those pigments imbued with it are, as a rule,

the most permanent. And not unnaturally so, for the more colour there is

present, the longer it takes to be affected, either by exposure or

impure air. Colour within colour, therefore, not only lends charm to a

pigment, but contributes to its safety.

There is often a vicious predilection of some artists in favour of a

particular colour, from which many of our best colourists have not been

totally free, and which arises from organic defect, or mental

association. Such predilection is greatly to be guarded against by the

colourist, who is every way surrounded by dangers. On the one hand,

there is fear lest he fall into whiteness or chalkiness; on the other,

into blackness or gloom: in front he may run into fire and foxiness, or

he may slide backward into cold and leaden dulness: all of which are

extremes he must avoid. There are also other important prejudices to

which the eye is liable in regard to colours individually, that demand

his particular attention. These are occasioned by the various specific

powers of single colours acting on the eye according to their masses and

the activity of light, or the length of time they are viewed. By

consequence, vision becomes over-stimulated, unequally exhausted, and

endued, even before it is fatigued, with a spectrum which not only

clouds the colour itself, but gives a false brilliancy by contrast to

surrounding hues, so as totally or partially to throw the eye off its

balance, and mislead the judgment. This derangement of the organ may be

caused by a powerful tint on the palette, a mass of drapery, the colour

of a wall, the light of a room, or other accidental circumstance; and

the remedy is to refresh the eye with a new object--of nature, if

possible--or to give it rest. The powers of colours in these respects,

as well as of pigments individually, together with their reciprocal

action and influence chemically, will be adverted to under their

distinct heads.

The attention of the artist to the individual powers of pigments,

although it may be of less concern than the attention to general effect

in colouring, is by no means less necessary in practice. For he who

would excel in colouring must study it from several points of view, in

respect to the whole and the parts of a picture, as regards mind and

body, and concerning itself alone. To this end, is needed a knowledge of

his pigments individually.

If nature has arrayed herself in all the colours of the rainbow, she has

not been niggardly in offering man the materials wherewith to copy them.

The mineral, animal, vegetable kingdom--each helps him to realize,

however faintly, her many manifold beauties: to give some idea, however

slight, of that glorious flood of colour, which light lets loose upon

the world. Metal, ore, earth, stone; root, plant, flower, fruit; beast,

fish, insect--in turn aid the arduous task. The painter's box is a very

museum of curiosities, from every part of the universe. For it, the

mines yield their treasures, as well as the depths of the sea: to it

come Arab camel, and English ox, cuttle-fish and crawling coccus: in it

the Indian indigo lies next the madder of France, and the gaudy

vermilion of China brightens the mummy of Egypt. Varied, indeed, are the

sources whence we derive our pigments; and if they still leave much to

desire, improvement is clearly manifest. Slowly but surely, year by

year, we are advancing. With the growth of science, the exhaustless

stores of creation, will there at last be attained--step by step, though

it be--that summit of the artist's hopes, a perfect palette?


The term "colour" is equivocal when applied to the neutrals, yet the

artist is bound to consider them as colours; for a thing cannot but be

that of which it is composed, and neutrals are composed of, or

comprehend, all colours.

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