This section is from the book "Chromatography; Or, A Treatise On Colours And Pigments, And Of Their Powers In Painting", by George Field. Also available from Amazon: Chromatography, or A Treatise on Colours and Pigments, and of Their Powers in Painting.
" Bear me to the citron groves - To where the lemon and the piercing lime, With the deep orange glowing through the green, Their lighter glories blend."
Orange is the first of the secondary colours in relation to light, being in all the variety of its hues composed of yellow and red. A true or perfect orange is such a compound of red and yellow as will neutralize a perfect blue in equal quantity either of surface or intensity, and the proportions of such compound are five of perfect red to three of perfect yellow. When orange inclines to red, it takes the names of scarlet, poppy, coquilicot, etc. In gold colour, etc. it leans toward yellow. It enters into combination with green in forming the tertiary citrine, and with purple it constitutes the tertiary russet: it forms also a series of warm semineutral colours with black, and harmonizes in contact and variety of tints with white.
Orange is an advancing colour in painting: in nature it is effective at a great distance, acting powerfully on the eye, - diminishing its sensibility in proportion to the strength of the light in which it is viewed; and it is of the hue and partakes of the vividness of sunshine, as it does also of all the powers of its components, red and yellow.
This secondary is pre-eminently a warm colour, being the equal contrast or antagonist in this respect, as it is also in colour, to blue, to which the attribute of coolness peculiarly belongs: hence it is discordant when standing alone with yellow or with red, unresolved by their proper contrasts, or harmonizing colours, purple and green.
As an archeus, or ruling colour, orange corresponds to the key of F in music, and it is one of the most agreeable keys or archei in toning a picture, from the richness and warmth of its effect; accordingly, its influence on feeling and the mind is gay and cheerful, and opposed to the soothing and sedate.
In the well-known fruit of the Aurantium, called orange from its golden hue, from which fruit this colour borrows its well-adapted name, Nature has associated two primary colours with two primary tastes which seem to be analogous, - a red and yellow compound colour, with a sweet and acid compound flavour.
The poets confound orange with its ruling colour yellow, and, by a metonymy, use in its place the terms golden, gilding, orient, etc, to express the signification of this colour in constructing of tropes; and it appears to be hardly less effective and necessary to warmth of description with the poet than with the painter, of which our preceding quotations afford instances; and some of the following illustrations of the poetic employment of this colour are in point. As according with light, etc.: -
"So sweet a kiss the golden tun gives not To those fresh morning drops upon the rose; Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright Through the transparent bosom of the deep."
"Reclining soft on many a golden cloud."
"Heaven's golden-wing'd herald."
"Orient liquors in a crystal glass."
"Extremes alike in either hue behold: Hot in the golden; in the silvery, cold."
Sher: Elements, Canto v. ]. 310.
As harmonizing with its co-secondaries: -
" Culls the delicious fruit that hangs in air. The purple plum, green fig, or golden pear."
As contrasted with blue: -
"From golden cups or hare-bells blue."
Of this relation we have given a number of examples in the preceding chapter; - in the following description, by Sir Humphry Davy, we have an instance from nature of the various relations of this colour associated. From the summit of Vesuvius "we see the rich fields covered with flax, maize, or millet, and intersected by rows of trees, which support the green and graceful festoons of the vine; the orange and lemon trees, covered with golden fruit, appear in the sheltered glens; the olive trees cover the lower hills; islands, purple in the beams of the selling sun, are scattered over the sea in the west; and the sky is tinted with red,softening into the brightest and purest azure"*
And Shakspere thus employs this colour in accordance with black: -
"The ousel-cock, so black of hue. With orange-tawny bill."
Butler also uses the same compound epithet: -
"At that an egg, let fly. Hit him directly o'er the eye. And running down his cheek besiuear'd. With orange-tawny slime, his beard."
Hudibras, Part I. Canto ii.
"Last Days of a Philosopher."
The list of original orange pigments is so deficient, that in some treatises on the subject of colours, orange is not even named as a colour. This may have arisen partly from the unsettled signification of the term; partly from improperly calling these pigments reds, yellows, etc.; and partly also from their original paucity. The following are accordingly all the pigments in general use which can properly be classed under the name of orange, though most of them are called reds or yellows: -