A SYMPHONY OF COLOR [THEORY] IN MARY GARTSIDE’S ESSAY ON LIGHT AND SHADE
By Joseph Litts, WPAMC Class of 2020
Winterthur is very lucky to have a copy of Mart Gartside’s An Essay on Light and Shade on Colors and Composition in General. Printed in London in 1805, Light and Shade is gorgeous and fascinating. As she describes in the opening pages, Mary Gartside was a drawing teacher, frequently frustrated by students who were “desirous of beginning immediately to paint,” but without a fundamental understanding of the principles of light, shadow, proportion, and color. Drawing and painting in watercolors was a popular past-time for well-educated merchant and gentry classes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Many became professional teachers of the subject, like Gartside.