Notebook, 1993-

Eastlake's Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters

Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock [One-time President of the Royal Academy], Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters [Formerly titled: Materials for a History of Oil Painting]. Vol. One. New York; Dover Publications, Inc. 1960 [Originally published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in 1847]

Professional Essays - Warm Outlines & Shadows

Zanetti marks the improvement of the early Venetian school in colour, by the observation 'fece più rosseggiare il contorno.' The outlines of the earliest painters were black. The effect of a warm outline to indicate flesh, even though the rest be white, is visible in some ancient mosaics in the vestibule of St. Mark's at Venice. The next step, or an extension of the prnciple, was the warming of the shadows, especially when small in quantity--the use of the blood tint. The reverse of these methods would be to make the center of he flesh the warmest, and to allow it to grow colder towards the outlines and shades. The finer, broader principle consisted in kindling [p. 359] the form at its boundaries and in its depths, and letting the center take care of itself--for it would necessarily be cooler than the darker parts.

When the system of preparing a cool underpainting was introduced, [by the Bellini and their followers] the warm glazings began in the darks, then toned the half-lights, and , lastly, tinted the lights. But, when all was tinted, the breadth of colour was sustained by keeping the focus in the darks. One consequence of this system was that the cheeks could not be much coloured--a general glow was rather attempted, for the colour being given in the shadow, contrast required that it should be less strong in the light. Ludovico Dolce, noticing this as the practice of Titian, gives a reason for it in his own way. It might be observed that the Venetians in adopting this system only copied the nature which they saw: if so, it must be concluded that Nature in Italy suggests a higher style of colour than elsewhere. The warm glazings [always semi-opaque in the lights and half-lights, though perfectly transparent in deepest shades] were even suppressed in a great measure by some Venetians in the lights; the effect was to give a certain effect of transparency, as if the skin were thin. [For, if we suppose a column of glass, we shall see the colour crowded towards the edges, and less strong in the centre; the colour is, as it were, accumulated in the foreshortened parts.] This effect had also, in heads, its use in expression. [p. 360] Zanetti speaks of "certi lividi," introduced by Basaiti. These "lividi" were merely parts less covered with the warm tintings, such warmth being suffered rather to accumulate in the darker, and less prominent portions. The coloured [not reddened] features, and paler cheeks of Basaiti's saints give them a look of passion and emotion, not to be rendered in an engraving.

The system easily degenerates into foxiness. Paduanino is often an instance of the abuse. The warm brown shadows [as opposed to Paduanino's red] in Titian--for example, in hands and feet--contrast agreeably with cool lights and middle tints. [pp. 359-361]



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].