Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

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Ryan Shuflin
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Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 08 May 2013, 19:05

In a introductory art class, one might learn that the basic colors are Red, Orange, Blue, Purple, Yellow and Green. Along with black and white these are all represented in the basic tinctures. Why then is orange left out? For example, in the coat of arms of Orange, France the oranges are depicted Or, not proper.

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Chas Charles-Dunne
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Chas Charles-Dunne » 08 May 2013, 20:06

It is probably historical - some colours could be produced and some could not.
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Chris Green
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Chris Green » 08 May 2013, 20:16

Historically, when identification was vital, orange and red (or indeed orange and gold in certain lights) would have probably have been considered too close to distinguish. Moreover red paint would have come in various shades (one of the reasons why the Pantone standards are not used in heraldry), and on campaign would have been subject to fading. The stains and purpure similarly would not have found favour on the grounds of being difficult to distinguish from red (or in purpure's case blue as well).

From an aesthetic point of view I would hazard a guess that orange and purple are the two colours that, given a free choice, most people will not choose for any purpose. You see very few (thank heavens) orange or purple houses or cars. Orange and purple occur rarely in women's clothing and men (with the exception of an aberrational period in the psychedelic era) avoid orange and purple ties unless forced to wear some obscure college or club monstrosity. Most sports clubs avoid these colours too (though I bet someone will list several top clubs as exceptions). My local ice hockey team, Färjestad, used to wear purple and yellow, but thankfully changed to green and white.
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JMcMillan
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby JMcMillan » 08 May 2013, 22:26

Ryan Shuflin wrote:In a introductory art class, one might learn that the basic colors are Red, Orange, Blue, Purple, Yellow and Green. Along with black and white these are all represented in the basic tinctures. Why then is orange left out? For example, in the coat of arms of Orange, France the oranges are depicted Or, not proper.


Modern color theory hadn't been invented at the time heraldry was developing. It started developing only in the late 15th century and didn't really catch on widely until the late 17th/early 18th after Newton discovered the principle of the color spectrum. So no herald circa 1400 would have thought in terms of three primary and three secondary colors. (In the Middle Ages, artists usually depicted the rainbow as simply red, yellow, and green.)

In fact, I think there's good reason to believe that the concept of "orange" as a separate color didn't exist when heraldry was developing. Certainly the word "orange" wasn't available to describe it. "Orange" as the name of a color in English dates only to about 1600, according to the OED; before that, we had to make do with "yellow-red" (or, in Anglo-Saxon, geoluhread). If you look in a Latin-English dictionary, the closest Latin equivalent for this color isfulvus, which can mean anything from brownish orange to reddish brown.

That would suggest that people in northwestern Europe circa 1200-1400, when heraldry was evolving, simply didn't think of orange as one of the main colors in its own right; they thought of it more or less the same way we think of blue-green.

(By the way, before someone asks what color people used to describe the fruit we know as an "orange," the answer is that in northern Europe at least, they generally didn't call it anything, oranges only began to be imported to that area in the late 1400s. Then they called a pomme d'orange or "apple orange" or "orange apple," from the Spanish or Italian adaptations of the Arabic word naranj.)

It's also interesting that the symbolic colors used by various cultures--from the various American Indian peoples to the liturgical colors of the Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches--don't include orange. The Indian tribes assigned colors to the various points of the compass and ascribed symbolic meanings to them; different tribes assigned different colors, but none of them included orange (or purple, for that matter). The range of choices was limited to red, white, yellow, blue, black, and green--the same as the core heraldic palette that was developed on the other side of the Atlantic.

Add to that the fact that our English expressions "redhead," "red hen," and "red fox" all refer to a color that most people today would describe as orange.
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Bradley Smith
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Bradley Smith » 02 Jul 2013, 15:58

One never knows what one will learn when visiting these forums.

Thanks, Joseph!

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Chris Green
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Chris Green » 02 Jul 2013, 17:34

When I was serving in Lagos, Nigeria, back in the 80s, one of my colleagues asked one of the locally-employed staff to move an orange-coloured metal cupboard from one room to another. When he checked later on that the job had been done, there stood a green cupboard where the orange one should have been. "But I told you to move an orange cupboard!" exclaimed my colleague. "This is green." "But sir, oranges are green!" came the response. And the Nigerian was quite right. In Africa, ripe oranges are indeed green.
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JMcMillan
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby JMcMillan » 02 Jul 2013, 19:36

Chris Green wrote:From an aesthetic point of view I would hazard a guess that orange and purple are the two colours that, given a free choice, most people will not choose for any purpose. [snip] . Most sports clubs avoid these colours too (though I bet someone will list several top clubs as exceptions).


I entirely agree that orange and purple are ghastly colors for almost any purpose. Particularly since the traditional sporting rivals of my university (Alabama, crimson and white) include teams that wear orange and white (Tennessee), purple and gold (Louisiana State), and orange and blue (Auburn and Florida).

We don't play Clemson University on a regular basis, but Chris will be pleased to know that its teams wear purple and orange.
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Bradley Smith
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Bradley Smith » 02 Jul 2013, 20:46

Chris Green wrote:When I was serving in Lagos, Nigeria, back in the 80s, one of my colleagues asked one of the locally-employed staff to move an orange-coloured metal cupboard from one room to another. When he checked later on that the job had been done, there stood a green cupboard where the orange one should have been. "But I told you to move an orange cupboard!" exclaimed my colleague. "This is green." "But sir, oranges are green!" came the response. And the Nigerian was quite right. In Africa, ripe oranges are indeed green.


Thanks for posting this, Chris! Now I finally understand something from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" that has always puzzled me. Count Claudio thinks that Don Pedro has been wooing Hero for himself, though that is not the case.

BEATRICE
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.

DON PEDRO
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true;

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Chris Green
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Chris Green » 02 Jul 2013, 21:35

... civil as an orange ...


Play on "Seville orange"?
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Ton de Witte
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Re: Why isn't Orange a Tincture?

Postby Ton de Witte » 03 Jul 2013, 10:01

JMcMillan wrote:
Chris Green wrote:From an aesthetic point of view I would hazard a guess that orange and purple are the two colours that, given a free choice, most people will not choose for any purpose. [snip] . Most sports clubs avoid these colours too (though I bet someone will list several top clubs as exceptions).


I entirely agree that orange and purple are ghastly colors for almost any purpose. Particularly since the traditional sporting rivals of my university (Alabama, crimson and white) include teams that wear orange and white (Tennessee), purple and gold (Louisiana State), and orange and blue (Auburn and Florida).

We don't play Clemson University on a regular basis, but Chris will be pleased to know that its teams wear purple and orange.


I can agree with purple, but I take strong exception against Orange being a ghastly color ! We put our national teams in that color and it is beautiful ;)
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