4 February 1847: Coming home on the omnibus, I watched the effects of half tones on the horses’ backs; that is to say on the shiny coats of the bays and blacks. They must be treated like the rest, as a mass, with local colour lying halfway between the sheen and the warm coloring. Over this preparation, a warm transparent glaze should be enough to show the change of plane for the parts in shadow, with reflected lights. Then on the parts that project into this halftone colour, the highlights can be marked with bright, cold tones. This was very remarkable in the bay horse.
10 July 1847: Painted the Magdalen in the Entombment — Must remember the simple effect of the head. It was laid in with a very dull, grey tone. I could not make up my mind whether to put it more into shadow or to make the light passages more brilliant. Finally, I made them slightly more pronounced compared with the mass and it sufficed to cover the whole of the part in shadow with warm and reflected tones. Although the light and the shadow were almost the same value, the cold tones of the light and the warm tones of the shadow were enough to give accent to the whole. We were saying when we were with Villot on the following day that it requires very little effort to produce an effect in this way. It occurs very frequently especially out of doors. Paola Veronese owes much of his admirable simplicity to it. A principle which Villot considers most useful and of very frequent occurrence to make objects stand out as a darker note against those that low behind; this is attained through the mass of the object and at the stage of the lay-in, when the local tone is settled at the beginning. I do not understand how to apply this rule as well as Villot. I must study it.
Veronese also owes much of his simplicity to the absence of details, which allows him to establish the local colour from the beginning. Painting in distemper almost forces him to do this. The simplicity of the draperies adds greatly to this quality in the rest. The vigorous contour which he draws so appropriately round his figures helps to complete the effects of simplicity in his contrasts of light and shade, and finishes and sets off the whole picture.
Unlike Titian, for example, Paolo Veronese never claimed to make a masterpiece of each picture. His skill in refraining from doing too much everywhere, and his apparent carelessness about the details, which gives so much simplicity, is due to the practice of decoration. In this type of work the artist is compelled to make many sacrifices.
This principle of the small differences in the value of shadows in relation to the lights, should be applied especially when painting young people, and it should be noted that the younger the subject, the more the transparency of the skin confirms this effect.