N In St George and the Dragon Z (1555-1558) by Tintoretto, the O use of colour is very traditional but extremely successful in R getting across the drama of the situation. The foreground is dominated by the frightened princess fleeing from St George's violent conflict with the dragon as she rushes towards the viewer with arms outstretched and cloak flying. To 'advance' her, she is shown in a shimmering deep blue dress, cloaked in a beautiful pinkish red. Her pale face and shoulders emerge from the rich colours of her clothes, hinting at a certain desirability through her apparent defencelessness. In turn, she is surrounded by the rich green swathe of a narrow piece of land.
The scene behind her is also full of action as St George on a white horse, with a white cloak and a red saddle-cloth, lances the scaly dragon who flaps his wings, coils his tail and gapes his jaws. Beyond that again is an inlet, and then another shore with dim grey walls. Above that there is a brilliant, almost white light in which God, looking down from heaven, seems to be urging St George on. The whole colour scheme enhances the drama of the situation well.
Drama and colour often go hand-in-hand, as the power of colour to produce an active, dominant ingredient into the composition of the picture is shown well in these examples. When you want to convey drama through a picture, as you have already seen, it is not too difficult if you use colour cleverly.
Felix Vallotton's The Lie (1897) seems to be set in a scene full of deep red danger. The whole room is furnished in strong reds, with pink and yellow striped wallpaper and black and pink flowers in the vase. The embracing man and woman are wearing evening dress, him in deepest black and her in bright, hot red. Who is telling whom the lie? We don't know for sure, but no doubt we each have our own idea of the culprit. The quality of the dominant, obsessive red conveys both a sign of danger and the suggestion of liaisons less than innocent. The colour really does set the scene and we know that no good will come of it. But isn't it attractive, isn't it seductive? What deep waters we are getting into, and all because of a title and a suggestive colour scheme. Strong drama, of the psychological kind.
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