Sunday, April 10, 2011

William Bouguereau's Palette

Hey Guys,

Here is Bouguereau's palette presented in the form of a color wheel.

If you have ever read Mark Walkers article, Bouguereau At Work, then you know Bouguereau is reported to have used this palette:

1.Naples Yellow (lead antimoniate)
3.Chrome Yellow, dark
5.Cobalt Blue
6.White Lead
7.Light Vermilion
8.Chinese Vermilion
9.Mars Brown (iron oxide); this available from Lefranc & Bourgeois
10.Van Dyck Brown
11.Burnt Sienna
12.Ivory Black
14.Genuine Rose Madder, dark

It is also noted that Bouguereau never mentions a specific palette, and probably experimented with many other colors, as his notebooks suggest.

Im not sure why Mark Walker list Mars Brown as one of Bouguereaus pigments, Originally this pigment is written in French as Brun Rouge and it seems to translate to Brown Red.

Mars Brown is a low chroma earth violet. You can mix up a close match to Mars Brown using Cad. Red Light and Ivory black.

I think Bouguereau likely used an earth red like Venetian Red.

Allot of the information on Bouguereau's technique, and materials, including his palette, actually comes from Charles Moreau-Vauthiers book, Comment on Peint Auhourd'hui 1923. English title, How One Paints Today.

Jaune de Naples — Ocre jaune — Jaune de chrome
foncé — Vert émeraude — Bleu de cobalt — Blanc
d'argent — Vermillon clair — Vermillon de Chine —
Brun rouge — Brun Van Dyck — Terre de Sienne
brûlée — Noir d'ivoire — Bitume — Laque de garance
Follow the link below to read this book. The book is in French, but you can use Googles translator to read it in English. The book also provides us with information on many other great painters.

Below is Bouguereau's painting titled L'art et la Litterature, Art and Literature 1867, and at the bottom of this painting we see a palette left by Bouguereau himself. Here you can see how Bouguereau laid out his palette.

In the newly released William Bouguereau Catalog Raisonné, on page 475 there is a picture of one of Bouguereau's actual physical palettes, and the layout is exactly the same as the picture above.

Some Additional Palettes from;

White Lead, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light,
Cadmium Yellow deep, Indian Yellow, Seville Earth,
Red Ochre, Vermilion, Rose Madder,Nasturtium Lacquer,Firm Lacquer Madder, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue,
Cobalt Blue, Emerald Green, Brussels Brown, Ivory Black

Lead White, Naples Yellow,
Chrome Yellow, Yellow Ochre,
Gaude Lacquer, Natural Italian Earth,
Roman Ochre, Mars Orange,
Chinese Vermilion, Cinnabar Red,
Red Brown, Madder Lacquer,
Burnt Sienna, Cassel Earth,
Ivory Black, Peach Black,
Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue,
Mineral Blue

Lead White, Naples Yellow, Zinc Yellow,
Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue, Emerald Green,
Burnt Sienna, Ivory Black, Bitumen, Mummy Brown

Jules DupRÉ.
Lead White, Naples Yellow, Indian Yellow,
Yellow Ochre, Yellow Lacquer, Lacquer Robert n 6?,
Natural Italian Earth, Roman Ochre, Raw Sienna,
Burnt Sienna, Mummy Brown, Bitumen,
Ivory Black, Fine Lacquer, Vermilion, Red Brown,
Cobalt Blue, Mineral Blue, Prussian Blue, Veronese Green,
Emerald Green

Lead White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre,
Mars Yellow, Vermilion, Red Brown,
Burnt Sienna, Rose Lacquer, Purple lacquer,
Emerald Green, Mineral Blue,
Cobalt Blue light, Ivory Black.

Lead White, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre,Raw Sienna, Natural Italian Earth, Roman Ochre,
Chinese Vermilion, Cinnabar Red, Red Brown,lacquer Madder, Burnt Sienna, Van Dyck Brown,
Ivory Black, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue,
Mineral Blue

Aimé Morot 
Lead White, Zinc White, Yellow Ochre,
Red Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red,
Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue,
Emerald Green, Rose Lacquer, Fine Carmine Lacquer,
Ivory Black

I went ahead and translated these for everyone the best I could.


Jason Peck said...

If anyone has trouble reading this post, due to font size please let me know. Blogger seems to be acting up, and its giving me allot of strange font sizes. Ive tried to fix it but it just keeps getting worse.

nobody said...

what colors bouguereau use to paint skin tones?

Jason Peck said...

Start with a yellow and a red, then mix a neutral gray to dull the yellow red mixture. Try Yellow Ochre, and French Vermilion. If you cant find French Vermilion, you can substitute Cadmium Red Light.

A neutral grey can be mixed from Ivory Black, and Burnt Sienna. You can also Use Ivory Black and Van Dyke Brown to mix a neutral grey. Next, lighten the Dark mixture in steps with white. Make a value string, dark to light. Mix these neutral greys with your Yellow Red mixture. This will give you basic neutral skin tones.

If you don't want to use a neutral gray, then try Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Van Dyke Brown, or Ivory Black.


1.Titanium White, or Lead White
2.Yellow Ochre
3.French Vermilion
4.Cobalt Blue

Those four colors will mix a nice range of skin tones. Learning to mix a value string will help you.

Learning the Munsell Color system is the best way to learn to mix any color you see in nature.

Paint Well, Jason

Jessica G. said...

Many years later:

Thank you for leaving up the translations! Several of the artists are favorites of mine, and it's cool to see what pigments they used.