Colour Theory | “At the same time, at various points it (London, National Gallery, Making Colour, until 7 September) touches on the question of how pigments have changed over time. Blues have become greener, or have almost entirely faded; greens have become brown or blue, reds have become pink and some yellows have disappeared; and several of the paintings on display have been chosen to illustrate this. Thus Niccolò di Buonaccorso’s 14th-century The Marriage of the Virgin originally included green trees in the background; the green was achieved by a layer of yellow over blue, but the yellow has now disappeared, leaving the trees entirely blue. Much later Gainsborough was able to use the more stable Naples yellow for a dress in the famous picture of his two daughters chasing a butterfly, and it has survived much better.
Color deterioration was not limited to paintings produced before the 19th century, as can be seen in some works by Van Gogh, who was often obliged to use cheap materials. What is displayed on the walls of galleries today inevitably looks different from the way it looked when it left the artist’s studio, even without taking into account the vexed question of the types of varnish that were used in the past and the way they’ve changed over time. How conscious artists were of these irreversible changes is unclear. ….” Charles Hope’s full review at LRB
Moses Harris (c. 1730 - c. 1788)
Etching, hand colored, signed in the plate lower right,
From: The Natural System of Colours Wherein is displayed the regular and beautiful Order and Arrangement, Arising from the Three Primitives, Red, Blue, and Yellow, The manner in which each Colour is formed, and its Composition, The Dependance they have on each other, and by their Harmonious Connections Are produced the Teints, or Colours, of every Object in the Creation, And those Teints, tho’ so numerous as 660, are all comprised in Thirty Three Terms.
London [c.1785 ?], pl.