images from artrenewal.org
Here is another example of a painting that I believe could have been done with the limited red, yellow ocher and black palette I was describing last night. Passages that look blue in the painting below may well be ivory black. If a painting is couched in a warm enough key, black will appear blue. This was a common trick among Dutch painters before an affordable blue was available. The skies in as Jan Van Goyen are actually black based rather than made with a blue pigment. Sargent was also fond of Velazquez who used a lot of black.
Timothy Parks posted this list of Sargents pigments from a period source in last nights comments. Thank you. I have seen similar lists before but this seems both believable and typical. It is very similar to the palette I was taught when I was a student in Boston. I have added some explanations to the list.
Blanc d'Argent, (flake lead)
Chromes (Pale and Orange) (Chrome yellows were lead based . They were totally replaced by the more brilliant and permanent cadmium colors.)
Rose Madder (fragile and extremely expensive relative of alizarin, made from the root of the madder plant. Softer and more roseate in color than alizarin.
French Ultramarine (synthetic ultramarine as opposed to lapis, the highly expensive original ultramarine had replaced long before Sargent's time).
Transparent Golden Ochre ( I expect this is a synthetic version of iron oxide, sometimes called mars yellow. This is the yellow in the paintings I have been describing)
Chinese Vermilion ( made first from cinnabar, a rare ore and then in the lab, it is mercuric sulphide. Violently poisonous, it is difficult to find, expensive to purchase and dangerous to use. A lovely soft crimson red it has been replaced somewhat effectively with cadmium red. I was taught to paint with this color.)
Peach Black ( I believe this would be a lamp black)
Cobalt Violet (an expensive but lovely color. I like this one and use it a lot)
Venetian Red ( an iron oxide red, probably a synthetic version)
Here is a portrait the majority of which could have been painted with the three color palette. I think that he sometimes worked in this palette and when the painting was nearly realized he accented it with a few accents of other colors from his palette.
Announcing a three day workshop to be held in Charleston, South Carolina. I am going to be down there painting for the Ella Walton Richardson gallery again and for the first time I will offer a workshop in conjunction with my visit. It will be fun to meet those of you who read this blog from the low country. Charleston is surrounded by marshes and sand beaches and has nice jungle like woods with palmettos and Spanish moss. As usual the workshop is open to all levels of experience and will run from Saturday, December 11 until Monday the 13th. I will teach outside and will demonstrate in the morning and then run from easel to easel teaching for the afternoon. I can save you years of screwing around learning to paint outside. We will have a great time painting in the unique environment along the coast.
Here is the link to sign up. Class size is limited to 10 and given the short notice on this one might be very small indeed.