NUMEROUS as are the elements at play in a picture, they are brought into "oneness" by tone. Tone may be defined as the running together of well-arranged masses and spots so that their edges are a means of fusion rather than separation. Let us imagine a room dimly lighted by a gas jet covered with a warmly tinted globe. Into this room a number of persons enter. If one is dressed in white and another in black, the white and dark will be influenced by the dim red glow. The white garment will be affected by the light with mellowness; that is, the whiteness will take upon itself the dimness of the faintly issuing light, the black will be far from black for the atmosphere of the room will bathe or tone it, and both white and black will have lost their strength of contrast in the dimness. These figures will be "in tone." Again, if they proceed to an adjoining room lighted by a goodly number of gas jets all incased in creamy globes, the radiance of the room will affect their appearance, their costumes and their "flesh values," so that they are quite other than they were in the dim room but they are still "in tone." Again, if there is but a single gas jet lowered to emit only the faintest light and a man steps up to it to read a letter, his head, figure, hand and letter will all be affected by the faint illumination in which he stands, He also will be "in tone."
Tone is the presence of atmosphere affected by some light that, pouring over figure and object, subjects all to its own quality. This is not less true in pictures. There, too, black and white change to meet the quality of the atmosphere introduced, and all intermediate lights and darks are influenced by the same spell. Tone is an enchanter, everything is at the mercy of its mystic charm. When it is present, figures and objects in a picture do not affront us; they play back into the enveloping quality of the prevailing picture-light. This light-affected air in the picture constitutes the motive; the figure and objects are only played upon by it and are the subject. When objects are not submerged in a prevailing tone we speak of them as being "out of tone." This expression applies to the hat and waist of Fig. 120. Considerable tone quality is present in the face and hair, but they are not in the same atmosphere with the laces and linen. The even dark background is the very negation of tone. In Fig. 123 the tone effect is consistent throughout.
In Fig. 28 we have the presence of tone. In it the flesh, body, and background are suffused, nothing departs from that atmospheric effect. Note by contrast the hard contours everywhere prevalent in Fig. 27, the emptiness of the flesh. Although the forms are more sharply defined, they are less real than in the pictorial rendering, Fig. 28. Tone never permits two whites to jerk our sight over black abysses as in Fig. 118. Tone is gentle, it is the mystic conveyer of the senses, ethereal.
We speak of color in photography when we really mean the color sense; it does not imply the presence of actual colors or even the printing of the negative in sepia. Colors do not necessarily make color even in painting. It is a quality of combinations that makes color, either in painting or photography. When it is present the means of expression in black and white art or in painting are so richly combined, so imbued with thought and feeling, so heightened in their juxtaposition and interposition of strength-giving contrasts, that the combinations act upon the senses with a fulness equaled perhaps by no other element in art. It may be said to be an intensification of the quality found in tone. Nothing shows the strong emotional nature of an artist as does the sense of color in his work. His pictures may be graceful, large in effect, decorative, earnest, and still not possess this beautiful element.
In fine reproductions of Rembrandt's portraits there is color. We do not so readily find it in prints from the works by Franz Hals, Rubens, and Van Dyck. Among early English painters Gainsborough is the colorist from the black and white standpoint. Whistler represents that quality strongly among the moderns. Portrait artists of the present Scotch school strive for and admirably express it.
Figure 115 has attained to much color; it is found to some extent in Fig. 113 and is not absent from Fig. 123.