Row Boat, Acrylic on Canvas,
10 x 14 in/ 25 x 35 cm
You may, or may not, have noticed over there in the right-hand column of my blog that I recently added a section I call ‘The Art Book I’m Currently Reading.’ I thought some of you may be interested in what another artist is reading because I am interested in what artists read.
Anyway, I’m on my third book since I added that section, and it’s The Great Book of French Impressionism. You have probably gleaned from my previous blogs that I like Impressionism. I will admit to it. Call me old-fashioned, I don’t care.
I like Claude Monet’s work among many of the Impressionists just like millions (I’m guessing) of other people on the planet.
One of the things that I have been curious about was his color palette. Just what paint colors did he use? One would think there would be a very straight-forward answer on that topic, what with the internet and all.
So, I Googled several phrases that I thought would best describe what I was looking for. I thought a list of paint colors would immediately pop-up. However, from what I could find, there are only a few sites that even discuss the actual colors. Most talk about all kinds of painting techniques and how he painted and how he didn’t use black and where he painted and blah, blah, blah.
From the few sites I found about his actual colors:
Artchive.com discussed the colors in Monet’s famous Bathers at La Grenouillere, 1869, one of his earlier works. It said: vermilion, viridian, emerald green, chrome green, chrome yellow, lemon yellow, cobalt violet, Prussian blue, and lead white.
From the art blog, My French Easel, in 2009, two quotes were evidently researched and provided. One quote says, “Silver White, Cadmium Yellow, Vermilion, Dark Madder, Cobalt Blue, Emerald Green and that’s it.” (Letter from Monet to G. Durand-Ruel–Giverny, 3 July 1905). A second quote: “Silver White, Light Cobalt Purple, Emerald Green, Extra-fine ultramarine; Sometime – occasionally – some Vermilion. Then a trinity of Cadmium: Light, Dark, Citrus; I also sell to him a Citrus Yellow Ultramarine, since a few years.” (Tabarant, Couleurs in Le Bulletin de la Vie Artisitique, 15 July 1923, pages 287-290).
One online-answer site, About.com, says the colors were/are: lead white (modern equivalent = titanium white, chrome yellow (modern equivalent = cadmium yellow light), cadmium yellow, viridian green, emerald green, French ultramarine, cobalt blue, madder red (modern equivalent = alizarin crimson), vermilion, and ivory black (but only used before 1886).
There are probably more, but I got tired of looking. And I think you can just about figure out which colors Monet used, give or take. I am sure his color palette changed somewhat over the years as his painting matured, and that accounts for the differences.
I will use the list from About.com because I already happen to have all those modern-equivalent colors on hand. From one artist who likes Impressionism, I think this is a very interesting subject.