Semi-neutral Gray Is Distinguished From The Neutral Grey Which

springs in an infinite series from the mixture of the neutral black and

white. Between gray and grey, however, there is no intermediate, since

where colour ends in the one, neutrality commences in the other, and

vice versa. Hence the natural alliance of the semi-neutral

gray--definable as a cool coloured grey--with black or shade; an

alliance which is strengthened by the latent predominance of blue in the

synthesis of black, so that in the tints resulting from the mixture of

black and white, so much of that hue is developed as to give apparent

colour to the tints. This explains why the tints of black and dark

pigments are colder than their originals, so much so as in some

instances to answer the purposes of positive colours. It accounts in

some measure for the natural blueness of the sky, yet not wholly, for

this is in part dependent, by contrast, upon the warm colour of sunshine

to which it is opposed; for, if by any accident the light of nature

should be rendered red, the colour of the sky would not appear purple,

in consequence, but green. Again, if the sun shone green, the sky would

not be green, but red inclined to purple; and so would it be with all

colours, not according to the laws of composition, but of contrast;

since, if it were otherwise, the golden rays of the sun would render a

blue sky green.

The grays are the natural cold correlatives, or contrasts, of the warm

semi-neutral browns, as well as degradations of blue and its allies.

Hence blue added to brown throws it into or toward the class of grays,

and hence grays are equally abundant in nature and necessary in art: in

both they comprehend a widely diffused and beautiful play of retiring

colours in skies, distances, carnations, and the shadowings and

reflections of pure light, &c. Gray is, indeed, the colour of space, and

has therefore the property of diffusing breadth in a picture, while it

furnishes at the same time good connecting tints, or media, for

harmonizing the general colouring. Consequently the grays are among the

most essential hues of the art, though they must not be suffered to

predominate where the subject or sentiment does not require it, lest

they cast over the painting that gloom or leaden dulness reprobated by

Sir Joshua Reynolds; yet in solemn works they are wonderfully effective,

and proper ruling colours. Nature supplies these hues from the sky

abundantly and effectively throughout landscape, and Rubens has employed

them as generally to correct and give value to his colouring, with fine

natural perception in this branch of his art: witness his works in the

National Gallery, and in that of the Luxembourg.

According to the foregoing relations, grays favour the effects and force

of warm colours, which in their turn also give value to grays. It is

hence that the tender gray distances of a landscape are assisted,

enlivened, and kept in place by warm and forcible colouring in the

foreground, gradually connected through intermediate objects and middle

distances by demi-tints declining into gray; a union which secures full

value to the colours and objects, and by reconciling opposites gives

repose to the eye. As a general rule, it may be inferred that half of a

picture should be of a neutral hue, to ensure the harmony of the

colouring; or at least that a balance of colour and neutrality is quite

as essential to the best effect of a painting as a like balance of light

and shade.


Semi-neutral Colours Belong To A Class Of Which Brown Marrone Semi-neutral Marrone Or Chocolate And Its Relations Puce Murrey facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail