Skip to content


The Velazquez palette

Diego Velazquez was one of the great painters of all time. He was a wealthy court painter who trav­eled exten­sively and had access to the full range of pig­ments avail­able in the 17th cen­tury. In my last post I noted that, by mod­ern stan­dards, artists before the 19th cen­tury had an extremely lim­ited selec­tion of avail­able pig­ments. Velazquez chose to use only a sub­set of those. If you are inter­ested in what is known of his paint­ing meth­ods, a great book to get is Velazquez: the Tech­nique of Genius, by Jonathan Brown and Car­men Garrido.

Here’s Velazquez’ usual palette (which he sel­dom devi­ated from through­out his career):

White: lead white mixed with cal­cite (cal­cium carbonate).

Yel­low: yel­low ochre, lead tin yel­low, and (rarely) Naples yellow.

Red: ver­mil­ion, a red earth (red ochre, burnt sienna, etc.), and a red lake (equiv­a­lent to alizarin crim­son or mad­der lake).

Blue: azu­rite, ultra­ma­rine blue, smalt (a dark blue pig­ment made from ground glass).

Brown: brown earth, an umber (raw or burnt).

Green: mix­tures of azu­rite and lead tin yellow.

Pur­ple: mix­tures of red lake and azurite.

That’s it. Often he used fewer col­ors; in Coro­na­tion of the Vir­gin he used only five pigments.

He prob­a­bly had a mix­ture of cal­cite and oil on his palette that he would add to mix­tures that he wanted to be more trans­par­ent. More opaque pas­sages often show evi­dence of some sort of pro­tein (prob­a­bly either hide glue or egg yolk) added to the paint. He some­times added a lot of oil to the paint, which has resulted in some yel­low­ing (but not as much as you might expect).

Posted in art books, art materials, artists, color, oil painting, painting.

Tagged with , , , , , .


7 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Vincent says

    Thanks for the insight on Velázquez’s palette. It’s always inter­est­ing to com­pare pal­letes of the old masters.

  2. murat güneyligil says

    DEAR °R, I WONDER HOW WAS LEONARDO DA °NCÄ°’S PALET….
    THANK YOU Ä°N ADVANCE
    REGARDS
    MURAT

  3. David says

    @murat güneyligil -

    Murat,

    I’m not that famil­iar with Leonardo’s spe­cific palette. So far as I know he used the lim­ited set of col­ors avail­able in Renais­sance Italy, with­out major depar­tures from the pig­ments selected by con­tem­po­rary painters.

  4. MURAT güneyligil says

    dear david, lots of time pased..ı would like to ask you another ques­tions…
    what is hide glue ?
    what “painterly “means?
    ı am on face book as “murat güneyligil-ressam”..ı would like to add you as a friend….
    lots of love from izmir-turkiye (we do not say any­more turkey which is an ani­mal not a state etc.)
    murat your brother

  5. MURAT güneyligil says

    you­can find me at any time from internet..my face­book account is avail­able…. MURAT

  6. MURAT güneyligil-RESSAM says

    Ä°T DOES NOT °VE MY CORRECT NAME Ä°N THÄ°S TEXT….BUT Ä°T Ä°S °KE Ä°N MY NAME Ä°N THE °TLE BOX

  7. MURAT güneyligil-RESSAM says

    DEAR DAVÄ°D I am start­ing a new project in painting.the con­cept is ana­to­lian culture,ottomans,bzyantium and the cul­ture com­ing from where ottomans held the ter­re­to­ries for 600 years…besides Turk­ish baths in harem with girls…ı have already made one of that but needs some cor­rec­tions to com­plete it.
    ı am push­ing myself to make progress with new color receipes-formulas and strugling with col­ors.ı am also try­ing to study new receipes instead of using black…mixing 4 col­ors to make look like black.
    and ı under­stood that vio­let is the joker color gets into lots of mix​tures​.in addi­tion to that virid­ian is an impor­tant color mak­ing black with some col­ors .ı reliezed since two years and using it.before that time virid­ian was not on my palette…(I NEED HELP ABOUT Ä°T)…so a bit ı started usieng notr-naturel col­ors as get­ting tints mak­ing grey…in the result of all of this paint­ing has more nat­ural look…ı admire the artist GEORGE BOTÄ°CH who lives in u.s.a but makes paint­ing of paris cafes,shops…
    ı am try­ing to sort it at his palette col­ors that he uses in his paint​ings​.so ı am studing on one of his paint­ing.
    ı also try­ing to learn “notan”.but unfor­nu­tately ı could not find books about notan.on the con­trary ı found new books which is about color recepies..and mak­ing false paint­ings …ı give lessons of paint­ing in the inter­net via msn.. hope­fully one of stu­dent lives in france he will send me the color recepie books of two.but ı have no chance to get the books about mak­ing false paint­ings and a book about light and color.
    so ı am study­ing hardly..but as soon as ı get the books and the trade mark of rafael brushes ı will be bet­ter .ı use tal­ens van gogh series but they are worn out eas­ily.
    WHÄ°CH TRADE MARK BRUSHES DO YOU ADVÄ°SE…..
    BEST °SHES
    MURATYOUR BROTHER….



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.