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Amaranthe anyone?

Discussion in 'Oils' started by Steve Edwards, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Steve Edwards Active Member

    Can anyone share their oil paint mix for the Napoleonic colour Amaranthe?

    I've tried various proportions of chrome yellow and magenta with a touch of Alizarin crimson but it never seems to look right. Maybe my problem is that I don't really know what colour I'm trying to get.

    Second question. Has anyone discovered a commercial oil colour for amaranthe which can be used straight from the tube for us lazy mixers? For example, lazy bones here uses Michael Harding's Yellow Lake Deep for Aurore.
  2. kagemusha A Fixture

  3. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    Interesting link...seems to be midway between red and violet on the colour wheel. A shade of magenta.
  4. megroot A Fixture

    I use it ones and if I can remember I use this mix:
    I made it by mixing scarlet red with crimson and blue, or by mixture of crimson red and prussian blue.
    Try and error.

  5. ivopreda A Fixture

    PatVanHoo and peedee like this.
  6. yellowcat A Fixture

    This mix is from Le Hussard Du Marais Technical Brochure no. 1 using W&N artist oil.


    Amaranth :
    Base colour - purple madder alizarin + cadmium scarlet,
    Shadow - brown madder alizarin + purple madder alizarin,
    Highlight - little white

    This is an old W&N artist oil colour chart. Not sure if W&N updated the colour code or if they discontinued the particular paint.


    Attached Files:

    PatVanHoo, samson and Paul Kernan like this.
  7. Steve Edwards Active Member

    Gentlemen, thank you very much for your helpful replies. I am looking to paint my FigureInItaly Neapolitans and I'd seen so many renditions of amaranth that I was getting confused as to what the colour actually looked like. Fading colours and computer monitors don't help and I've seen everything from dark crimson to a bad reproduction of a Patrice Courcelle picture of Murat, the Dandy King, wearing bright pink riding boots.

    I think I now have a much clearer idea of what I'm aiming for. The context, of course, is what 19th century cloth makers and dyers could supply, which was probably wool dyed with madder.

    I have borrowed the illustration below from this site:


  8. ivopreda A Fixture

    hi Steve... nobody can tell you wich color is the Amaranth... you're right... choose a shade and paint it...

    are you going to paint my De Livron or my Wolff?

    De Livron bianco.jpg

    FIC12 - Wolff (5)a.jpg
    Jaybo likes this.
  9. Steve Edwards Active Member

    It's Colonel Antonio Napoletano on first because I can paint yellow and green!

    W&N only have the Purple Madder in their range nowadays. I've ordered a tube of Rose Madder oil paint to help me with the amaranth. I like all the shades of amaranth in the pictures; I wonder which one Murat preferred. Maybe he just poured red wine over his uniforms.
  10. fogie A Fixture

    It's the same old dilemma isn't it ? We want to get things right but come to realise that many variables - vegetable dyes, weathering, and simple
    interpretations - mean that, in the end, we must make an informed guess. I tend to prefer slightly desaturated colours when painting figures, and
    use this as my rough guide with Napoleonics. It's not necessarily relevant to this particular colour query but might be of interest - it's a colour chart
    produced originally by Lucien Rousselot.


    nuancier - lucien rousselot.jpg
    Jaybo and Landrotten Highlander like this.
  11. Steve Edwards Active Member

    Mike, thanks very much for the colour chart. You have to see the colours because you can't guess from the name, who would have thought that capucine was an orange-red? I would have guessed it was brown, after coffee and the monks. And quite wrong I would have been. As for Ventre de Biche (Doe's belly- thank you Google translate!) when was the last time you had a chance to examine the colour of a deer's belly? There's another version of the Lucien Rousselot colour chart on the Metal Modeles website. Most of the English language pages have the link "Figurine Kit Guide" on the top right, when you're on the page follow the link for "Nuancier des coleurs d'Armee Francaise". It even has a colour chip for my bete noire, amaranthe. Only here it looks like a shade of lipstick.

    My internet rambling over amaranthe led me to this site https://antiquites.clostermann.org/la-poesie-perdue-des-couleurs where the author, Pierre-Alain Closterman yearns for the poetic colour names of the 18th century like nez-de-renard, fleur de seigle, triste-amie, ventre de biche etc. It would seem that there is a traditional French hunting costume of a jacket of ventre de biche with amaranthe facings. Here, it looks like the facing fabric is velvet so the amaranthe colour is rich and saturated.
    I have now concluded that amaranthe is a light crimson colour, a lighter colour than cramoisi or, in plain English, crimson; the uniform facing colour as used by many regiments including Napoleon's guard Polish lancers. In many surviving, contemporary illustrations these colours look much lighter, almost pink. I believe that could well be down to the artist using fugitive colours such as Alizarin crimson which are known to fade over time. Colours like Magenta or Prussian blue were developed much later in the 19th century.

    Trying to read French websites stresses my inadequate language skills and I wish that I had worked harder at school. I used to read Liliane and Fred Funken books instead of doing my French homework and believed that, because they were written in French, I would absorb the language naturally. It didn't work, you can look at Liliane and Fred's pictures for as long as you like but you won't be improving your French irregular verbs. Anyway, let's see what Liliane and Fred had for the Neapolitan army:


    And here's another example found on Pinterest:


    What would you say? A lighter, pinkish version of crimson? You can only paint something when you know what it looks like and whenever I have to ask the question "what did cowhide backpacks look like?" or "what colour were chasseur uniforms?" then I try this website, https://en.empirecostume.com which other PF friends have recommended. These guys are suppliers of historic uniforms to modern re-enactors and the photographs on the site are a real eye-opener. I could not find any amaranthe examples but here's a Polish lancer:


    The blue and crimson are much darker colours than you usually see depicted. And here's Lefebvre Desnouettes of the Guard Chasseurs:


    Look at that gold braid! Such bling, he looks more like a matador in his "Suit of Lights" than a chasseur. We usually see gold braid in contemporary oil paintings or in surviving uniforms where it has darkened and tarnished with age. When it's new and regularly cleaned it is much brighter. I actually prefer the subtle old-gold version which most miniature painters depict. But this is what gold braid actually looks like and chasseurs wore dark, bottle green uniforms. Horror!

    Meanwhile I still have to find some paint for my amaranthe. I like to paint in oils because I find it very satisfying and whilst the good practice theory of oil painting says that all you need is around 10-12 tubes of colour which you then use to mix any colour you need I have a problem. I can't stop buying paint. I love buying paint. I am a paint groupie. Please can I have some more paint?

    My current oil paint favourite brand is Michael Harding. Michael's paints are wonderful and I own several tubes (surprised?) My original plan to get some Rose Madder paint was abandoned when I saw how expensive it was so I got some Quinacridone Rose instead. Michael's prices are quite reasonable but the cost of the pigment drives the selling price. For example, a 40ml tube of blue Lapis Lazuli is GBP 61.00, whereas Ultramarine Blue is GBP 6.20. Here's the Rose:


    I think that we can do an amaranthe very nicely with this one, the real paint looks much better than the picture here. Now I am starting to realise that the entire amaranthe thing was just an excuse to go shopping for more paint. Shopping at my favourite art shop, Cornellisen in Great Russell St, London WC1.


    Don't visit London just to go to Cornelissen, it's not that good. But if you live in London and you've never been then it's time you went. Cornelissen is a good, old fashioned shop with creaking, wooden floors and it's stuffed full of paints, mediums and brushes. They have everything the painter needs and the staff are very friendly and helpful. I was looking in the window the other day and a complete stranger said to me "I love this shop". I said to him "So do I".

    We decided that we did not need to buy anything but we were going in anyway. I bought some brushes and a tube of paint that I did'nt need. Pretty soon I am going to stop playing with my paints and start painting those Neapolitans which are still in their packets.
    PatVanHoo, Jaybo, Jed and 1 other person like this.
  12. fogie A Fixture

    Great post, Steve, and an entertaining thread......chasing colours fascinates, infuriates, frustrates and excites all at the same time. I've always believed it
    to be one of the best aspects of this hobby. Be careful though, it led me in the past into the mysterious world of plant and vegetable dyes ( do you know
    the different variety of awful stuff that went into mordants ?) and pre-industrial age textile production. Listening to a Colourman speaking about his craft
    is like listening to Leonardo or Botticelli.

  13. akaryu Moderator

    Very, very interesting thread! This is what the Planet is all about!

    PatVanHoo and Jaybo like this.
  14. fogie A Fixture

    Meant to add a thought or two about Cornelissen ...we have a mere trivial difference of opinion, alas, for I think it's the only reason
    to visit London. I used to be an 'habitue' of the place back in my student days (we were provided with fairly generous grants in those
    days - bloody baby-boomers eh?) and well remember standing in there thinking that this must be what Heaven looks like. I'm a long
    standing limited colour palette man preferring to use just five colours, but like you, would not be able to resist happily spending a fortune
    in there.

  15. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    Just come across an article by Bob Knee in Historical Miniatures No 20 P43.

    His mix is Permanent Alizarin Crimson and White mixed to a Light red raspberry sherbet. He added a small amount of Cadmium Red Pale. Shade by adding more of the Cadmium Red. Highlight sparingly with White.

    Jaybo likes this.
  16. Jaybo Well-Known Member

    I realize that Bob Knee's book on Color Theory is long out of production but it would be most helpful if his oil color formulas could be posted on this website.
  17. ivopreda A Fixture

    I returned on this thread that I find very interesting... colors are a passion for us:)

    just a little old story... I've a friend very passionate and very "rigid" in his interpretation of the colors...

    his normal speech was "the green has to be in this shade!" ... we went together to visit the Emperi museum in Salon de Provence and we stopped in front of the vitrines dedicated to the Guard chasseur ( the elite of the napoleonic cavalry)...
    there was 3 or 4 different dolman... all of them green but of a completely different shade of green

    one cold green more dark close to blu, another lighter more yellowish another more reddish...

    we are used to discuss about a single colors...no any tone had many different shade.

    we forget that the technique for dyeing fabrics was far away from that of today and that they did not have pantone as a system for defining colours.
    How can we think that a dyer in the north of France created the same colour as one in the south? when fabrics were not created directly in the conquered countries.

    I normally select a colors that can be as closer as possible to the description. in any case 90 % of our documents are painting!
    This means that we consider the work the painters have done to be correct... but the original portraits are also different...

    check the purple of the coronation robe... they are similar non the same and we watching a single piece!

    934859_713199908766700_8461734731439835465_n.jpg 10620666_713199775433380_6613873906010210241_n.jpg

    napo incoronazione.jpg
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  18. kagemusha A Fixture

    If I may...as a printer for 49 years...one thing that many forget...is that most of us rely on what we see...whether it is a photgraph or a graphic image...as opposed to viewing an actual original object...in today's world we rely more and more on the internet for our source of references...and this a trap that we all fall into...colours on computer monitors vary widely...as do people's own perception of colour.
    With the pictures in books...here you are at the mercy of so many variables...the photographer being the primary contact with the source subject...then the many who handle his film or transparency (slide)...and not least of all...the good old printer himself...not forgetting the press it is printed on.
    What I am saying is...you will see variations in different photo's of the same subject...so I guess...being simplistic...we can only ever say that what we see is an assumption of the original...and interpretation is the best we can hope for.

    Jaybo likes this.
  19. Steve Edwards Active Member

    The Emperi museum in Salon de Provence looks good. I wish I could leave the house and go somewhere! I've visited the Musée de l'Armée at Les Invalides in Paris which is absolutely brilliant and well worth another visit. They were going to host the Piersergio Allevi and Danilo Cartacci exhibition, "Il Volto del Comando" this year but it was cancelled due to Covid-19. However, it does seem to be going ahead later this year in November/December. We live in hope.

    If you are finding this discussion on Napoleonic colours interesting and want to read more on the subject then you might start with any of the Paul Dawson books published by Frontline:

    Napoleon's Waterloo Army: Uniforms and Equipment

    Napoleon's Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment: The Infantry

    Napoleon's Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment: The Cavalry

    They are all available on Amazon so you can click the "Look Inside" link and read the introduction which is where you will find a short section dealing with Napoleonic colours, cloth and dyestuffs. Fascinating. I don't want to plagiarise the books but here's one of the cloth samples:


    I think this illustrates what Ron was saying; apart from all the other variables our own perception of colour can make our judgement subjective. Bleu de ciel to me is "sky blue", the colour of the sky. Where I live in London the sky is usually a pale, watery blue; even grey. Not the beautiful azure shade of southern skies. I only intended to read the introduction to those books but my appetite was whetted and I decided to buy one. Which one? I could not decide so I bought all three. Don't tell me you're surprised, I need something to read to pass the time of day...

    PatVanHoo and Jaybo like this.
  20. ivopreda A Fixture


    totally agree with you

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