Art Lesson 37, Part 23
Discover how Titian Depicted Yellow and Orange Draperies
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How Titian Depicted Yellow and Orange Draperies
Titian’s yellow and orange draperies look magnificent. Let’s have a look at what pigment analyses of some of the paintings show us.
The pigments that Titian used most for yellow draperies are actually a limited set of lead-tin yellow (with or without white) for highlighted areas; in the orange shadows and half-shadows, he added red earth to the lead-tin yellow. This was pretty much how Titian painted, making little adjustments to hues in certain places.
The golden yellow doublet of the central figure in the Christ and the Adulteress was created with only lead-tin yellow in highlights. The paint mix in the shadows of the doublet contains lead-tin yellow, red earth, and a little vermilion.
Paint cross-sections taken from The Aldobrandini Madonna reveal that the saint in yellow originally wore a pink dress. The dress is not uniformly yellow, as there is a lilac color that was created by mixing white, red lake, and ultramarine. The whole area was underpainted in purple, starting with pink, and then overpainted with lighter midtones and highlights in pale yellow.
Joseph’s cloak in The Holy Family with a Shepherd is orange. For the brightest highlights, Titian used realgar only. For the lightest midtones, he mixed realgar with earth pigments. And finally, the shadows consist of red and yellow earths.
Especially beautiful is the orange drapery of the bacchante with cymbals in the Bacchus and Ariadne. Cross-sections reveal that realgar was used on its own in the brightest highlights and was mixed with earth pigments to achieve darker tones. In the layers below, there is a dark red underpainting. The color remains vibrant and strong, yet the layer of paint is fragile due to some degradation.