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.
"'Tis iweet and tad the latest notes to hear Of distant music dying on the ear; Tis sweet to hear expiring summer's sigh, Thro forests tinged with Russet, wail and die."
The second or middle tertiary colour, Russet, like citrine, is constituted ultimately of the three primaries, red, yellow, and blue; but with this difference, that instead of yellow as in citrine, red is the archeus, or predominating colour in russet, to which yellow and blue are subordinates: for orange and purple being the immediate constituents of russet, and red being a component part of each of those colours, it enters doubly into their compound in russet, while yellow and blue enter it only singly; the proportions of its middle hue being eight blue, ten red, and three yellow, of equal intensities. It follows that russet takes the relations and powers of a subdued red; and many pigments and dyes of the latter denomination are in strictness of the class of russet colours: in fact, nominal distinction of colours is properly only relative; the gradation from hue to hue, as from s shade to shade, constituting an unlimited series, in which it is literally impossible to pronounce absolutely where any shade or colour ends and another begins; but which is capable nevertheless of being arbitrarily divided to infinity.
The harmonizing, neutralizing, or contrasting colour of russet, is a deep green; - when the russet inclines to orange, it is a gray, or subdued blue. These are often beautifully opposed in nature, being medial accordances, or in equal relation to light, shade, and other colours, and among the most agreeable to sense.
Russet, we have said, partakes of the relations of red, but moderated in every respect, and qualified for greater breadth of display in the colouring of nature and art; less so, perhaps, than its fellow-tertiaries in proportion as it is individually more beautiful, the powers of beauty being ever most effective when least obtrusive; and its presence in colour should be principally evident to the eye that seeks it, - not so much courting as courted.
Of the tertiary colours, it is that which has supplied most of the ornament of epithet and sentiment to the poet; and his application of it is remarkably analogous to its just uses in painting when applied for the purposes of expression, which in this colour is warm, complacent, solid, frank, and soothing; of which and of its accordances and contrasts, etc, the following may serve as illustrations from the poets, who often, according to a common acceptation, substitute the term brown for russet: -
"The Doric dialect has a sweetness in its clownishness; like a fair shepherdess in her country russet."
"By this white glove (how whit* the hand, God knows!) Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd In russet yeas, and honest kersey noes."
"But look - the morn, in russet mantle clad. Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill."
Idem: Hamlet, Act i. Sc 1.
"Straight mine eye hath caught new plea-tures. While the landscape round it measures; Russet lawns, and follows gray, Where the nibbling flocks do stray."
" Here, in full light, the russet plains extend ,• There, wrapt in clouds, the bluish hilts ascend."
"Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew; And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing In russet gown and apron blue."
" The star that rules my luckless lot. Has fated me the russet coat, An' damn'd my fortune to the groat;
But in requit, Has blest me wi' a random shot
O' contra' wit."
Of the tertiary colours, russet is the most important to the artist; and there are many pigments under the denominations of red, purple, etc. which are of russet hues. But there are few true russets, and one only which bears the name: of these are the following: -