Have To Be Learnt For Each Pigment Has Its Own Peculiar Habitudes


chemical, physical, artistic; but if they be good and durable, no amount

of time and study spent upon them is thrown away. To think less of the

quality of one's materials than of the effects which can be produced

with them is mistaken policy; and to be content with that quality when

better can be had, shows no real love of art, but rather indolence and


Perhaps one reason why freshly introduced pig
ents have not as fair a

chance as they are entitled to, is due to the fashion which prevails of

exclaiming against the fugacity of modern colours. If their detractors

would confine themselves to certain colours, there could be no denial;

but to assert, as is often done, that the cause of modern pictures not

standing is owing to modern pigments generally, is unjust. It is not

the materials which should be blamed, but those who use them. The fact

is, that the artist's knowledge has not increased in proportion to the

greater variety of colours at his command. In the early periods of art,

when the palette was chiefly confined to native pigments, the painter

could not very well go wrong. Now-a-days but too many, wanting the skill

of the old masters, seek to make amends for it by brilliancy of

colouring: with imperfect knowledge of their materials the result is

obvious. The palette, we admit, wants weeding; not only of the bad new

colours, but of the bad old colours. This, however, must be a work of

time, and depend, not upon the colourman--for where there is a demand

there will be a supply--but upon the artists themselves. To this end an

increased acquaintance with the properties of pigments is required,

whereby they may be able to choose the fast from the fugitive. It may be

fairly assumed that the painter will be assisted in his task by the

progress of chemical science, which will doubtless add from time to time

to the list of stable pigments. We have heard it remarked that there are

too many colours already--to which we reply, there are not too many good

colours, and scarcely can be. The more crowded the palette is with

reliable pigments, the more likely are the worthless to be pushed from

their places. In our opinion, there is ample room for fresh colours,

provided they be durable; and we have as little sympathy with the

stereotyped cry of there being too many, as with the fashionable

unbelief in modern pigments. Certainly, the artist who seeks for

permanence among the whites, reds, or blues, will not be troubled with a

superfluity. Certainly, too, colours are as good as ever they were, and

better--better made, better ground, better prepared for use. But, fast

and fugitive, pigments are more numerous, and for that reason need more

careful selection.


The general attributes of a perfect pigment are beauty of colour,

comprehending pureness and richness, brilliancy and intensity, delicacy

and depth,--truth of hue--transparency or opacity, well-working,

crispness, setting up, or keeping its place, and desiccation, or drying