Dictionarium polygraphicum. Colouring.

Dictionarium Polygraphicum:
Or, The Whole Body of Arts Regularly Digested.
Vol I.
London: Printed for C. Hitch and C. Davis in Pater-noster Row, and S. Austen in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCCXXXV.
Colours, says the ingenious Mr. Richardson, are to the eye, what sounds are to the ear, tastes to the paiate, or any other objects of our senses, are to those senses; and accordingly, an eye that is delicate takes in proportionable pleasure from beautiful ones, and is as much offended with their contraries.

Good Colouring therefore in a picture, is of consequence, not only as it is a truer representation of nature, where every thing is beautiful in its kind, but as administring a good degree of pleasure to the sense.

The Colouring of a picture must be varied according to the subject, the time and place.

If the subject be grave, melancholy or terrible, the general teint of the Colouring must incline to brown, black or red and gloomy; but you must be gay and pleasant in subjects of joy and triumph. See EXPRESSION.

Morning, noon, evening, night, sun-shine, wet or cloudy weather, influences the colours of things, and if the scene of the picture be a room, open air, partly open and partly inclos'd, the Colouring must be accordingly.

The distance also alters the Colouring, because of the medium of air, through which every thing is seen, which being blue, the more remote any object is, the more it must partake of that colour, and of consequence must have less force or strength; the ground therefore, or whatsoever is behind a figure (for example) must not be so strong, as that figure is, nor any of its parts which round off, as those that come nearer to the eye; and that not only for the reason already given, but because there will always be reflections stronger or weaker, that will diminish the force of the shadows, which reflections (by the way) must partake of the colours of those things from whence they are produc’d.

Any of the several species of colours may be as beautiful in their kinds as the others, but one kind is more so than another, as having more variety, and consisting of colours more pleasing in their own nature; in which harmony and agreement of one tinct with another, the goodness of Colouring consists.

To shew the beauty of variety, I will instance in a gelder-rose, which is white, but having many leaves one under another, and lying hollow, so as to be seen through in some places, which occasions several tincts of light and shadow; and together with these some of the leaves having a greenish tinct, all together produces that variety, which gives a beauty not to be found in this paper, though it is white, nor in the inside of an egg-shell though whiter, nor any other white object, that has not that variety.

And this is the case, though this flower be seen in a room, in gloomy or wet weather; but let it be expos'd to the open air, when the sky is serene, the blue that those leaves, or parts of leaves that lie open to it will receive, together with the reflections that then will also happen to strike upon it, will give a great addition to its beauty.

But let the sun-beams touch up its leaves, where they can reach with their fine yellowish tinct, the other retaining their sky blue, together with the shadows and brisk reflections it will then receive, and then you wo what a perfection of beauty it will have; not only because the colours are more pleasant in themselves, but there is greater variety.

A sky entirely blue would have less beauty than it has, being always varied towards the horizon, and by the sun-beams, whether rising, setting, or in its progress; but neither has it that beauty, as when more varied with clouds, ting'd with yellow, white, purple, &c.

A piece of silk or cloth, hung or laid flat, has not the beauty, though the colour of it be pleasing, as when flung into folds; nay, a piece of silk that has little beauty in itself, may be much improv'd only by being pink'd, water'd or quilted; the reason is, in these cases there arises a variety produc’d by lights, shades and reflections.

There are certain colours less agreeable than others, as a brick wall for example; yet when the sun strikes upon one part of it, and the sky tinges another part of it, and the shadows and reflections the rest, this variety shall give even that a degree of beauty.

Perfect black and white are disagreeable, for which reason, a painter should break those extremes of colours, that there may be a warmth and mellowness in his work; let him (in flesh specially) remember to avoid the chalk, the brick and the charcoal, and think of a pearl and a ripe peach.

But it is not enough, that the colours in themselves are beautiful singly, and that there is variety, they must be set by one an other, so as to be mutually assistant to each other; and this not only in the object painted, but in the ground, and whatsoever comes into the composition, so as that every part, and the whole together may have a pleasing effect to the eye, such a harmon to it as a good piece of musick has to the ear; but for which no certain rules can be given, no more than for that, except in some few general cases, which are very obvious, and need not therefore be mentioned here.

The best that can be done, is to advise one who would know the beauty of Colouring, to observe nature, and how the best colouris's have imitated her.

What a lightness, thinness and transparency, what a warmth, cleanness and delicacy, is to be seen in life and good pictures?

He that would be a good colourist himself, must moreover practise much, and for a considerable time accustom him felf to see well colour'd pictures only; but even this will be in vain, unless he has a good eye, in the sense, as one is said to have a good ear for musick; he must not only see well, but have a particular delicacy with relation to the beauty of colours, and the infinite variety of tincts.

The Venetian, Lombard and Flemish schools have excell'd in Colouring; the Florentine and Roman in design; the Bolognese masters in both; but not to the degree generally as either of the other.

Correggio, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Rubens and Van Dyck have been admirable colourists; the latter, in his best things, has follow'd nature extremely close.

Rafaelle's Colouring, especially in his shadows, is blackish. This was occasion'd by the use of a sort of printer's black, and which has chang'd its tinct, though it was warm and glowing at first, upon which account he was fond of it, though he was advis'd what would be the consequence.

However, by the vast progress he made in Colouring, after he apply'd himself to it, 'tis judg’d he would in this part of painting also have excell'd as in the others.

Here would have been a double prodigy! Since no one man has ever possess'd even Colouring and Designing, to that or any very considerable degree.

Though the Cartoons are some of the last of his works, it must be confess'd the Colouring of them is not equal to the drawing; but at the same time, neither can it be deny'd, but that he that painted those could colour well, and would have colour'd better.

It must be considered, they were made for patterns for tapestry, not profess'd pictures, and painted not in oil, but in distemper; if therefore one sees not the warmth and mellowness, and delicacy of Colouring, which is to be found in Correggio, Titian or Rubens, it may be in a measure fairly imputed to these causes.

A judicious painter has other considerations relating to the Colouring, when he makes patterns for tapestry to be heighten’d with gold and silver, than when he paints a picture, without any such view; nor can a sort of dryness and harshness be avoided in distemper upon paper.

Besides, time hath apparently chang'd some of the colours.

In a word, the tout ensemble of the colours is agreeable and noble, and the parts of it are in general extremely, though not superlatively good.

I will only add one observation here concerning the colours of the draperies of the Apostles, which are always the same in all the Cartoons; only st. Peter, when he is a fisherman, has not his large apostolical drapery on.

This Apostle when dress'd wears a yellow drapery over his blue coat, st. John a red one over a green, so does st. Paul, which is also the same which he wears in the famous St. Cecilia, which was painted near ten years before.

Ei kommentteja :