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 Shadows

Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock, [One-time President of the Royal Academy] . Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great The colourists of all schools treat the deepest shades as intense and, more or less, transparent browns. This brown could undoubtedly be produced by glazing over a not too dark grey [rather over a light grey--as was the practice, in consequence of his ground, of Rubens]; but such a system could express no force of light and shade, and in Rubens' case, although the ground was often a light grey, the brown dark was inserted at first in its deepest power. There is, therefore, in this respect, no essential difference between the Italian and the Flemish practice; intense brown, no matter how produced, is common to all the colourists in dark shadows.

The system of expressing almost all degrees of chiaroscuro by grey, as the lower depth of white, led some great painters, and, to a certain extent, even Correggio, to adopt too blue a preparation for their darker shades. Neutrality, by dint of glazing, may doubtless be attained in such shade, but generally at the expense of clearness and warmth. [p. 333] Zanetti, in eulogizing Giorgione, says, that his shadows were not "bigie" or "ferrigne" like those of some other painters. The Lombard painters generally, including many followers of Leonardo da Vinci, have this defect, this iron coldness in the shadows; but even they employ deepest brown, and brown only, in the intensest darks.

With this precaution, either avoiding very dark bluish greys in the lowest half-lights, or gradually warming them as they pass the ordinary force of light middle tints [where this coldness is desirable] the system of modelling with a grey that is really neutral cannot be too much recommended. The utility and the charm of this neutral tint are most felt when, after the preparation is dry, the middle tints are allowed to imbibe degrees of warmth--for the nature of the grey is such from the absolute neutrality, that the slightest tinge of colour upon it is precious and harmonious. [pp. 333-334]



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