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Color Harmony





Degas has used what appears to be a fairly limited palette to give this painting a tight color harmony. The color temperature is predominantly warm with dominating browns and reds, but woven through some of these fields of warm are subtly contrasting areas of cool green/grey.


In the wallpaper background, small patches of juxtaposed green and red blend to produce an animated field of warm. This sounds like a recipe for strong color contrast, but the visual blending Degas color arrangement causes, creates a tight and very rich color harmony.

Edgar Degas [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) “Interior” (1868 or 1869)

In order to attract a mate, the male Satin Bower Bird has become an expert at harmonious color arrangement.  He builds a bower from sticks and grass woven into an arch, then decorates the area around it with an assortment of carefully selected blue objects. The objects are painstakingly arranged and rearranged until he is satisfied the display is just right. If anything interferes with the display he quickly adjusts it back to its original state. His preference is for Ultramarine and Cobalt Blues, cooler Phthalo Blues being a rarity.

Color Harmony - Satin Bower Bird

Satin Bower Bird – decorated bower

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