As an incarnate, also carnation, meat tone, meat color, more rarely also skin color, in the art is called the skin color of man. The incarnate is, therefore, the hues used by an artist to imitate the naked body parts of a human being, the skin, in a picture. In the different epochs of art history, different shades have dominated, although the incarnate is usually mixed with red tones and white, in addition often green, blue, ocher as well as Siena are used. Good incarnate is characterized by the fact that the individual body parts have their own color (face, hands, knees etc.).
The term is derived from the Latin carnis, which can be translated with meat. In the German language, the term is used as a noun and means the coloring of the human flesh on a work of art and thus the color used for it or it is used as an adjective and can then be understood as flesh colors.
The term is used in painting, but it is the same in the barrel painting. The coloring of a sculpture, of a relief, of an image or of another surface, is designated as a barrel painting, whereby the coating of an object with precious metals is also conceived (eg gilding). Let us now look at an example that illustrates what is described:
The above example of the Dutch painter Maerten van Heemskerck shows the triumph of Bacchus. It is noticeable that the skin colors of the figures depicted are strikingly different, with a spectrum of very bright tones as well as almost black colors being used. The depicted persons thus have different shades of hair, and the shades used to represent the surface of the naked parts are called incarnate.
In art, however, a different skin color is used not only to characterize the members of different cultures, as is the case in the example above, but also is sometimes used to distinguish the sexes. Thus, for the portrayal of the female sex, a lighter incarnate is chosen in many paintings than for the skin of the child. The same applies to the depiction of children or divine beings, which are partly also quite brightly portrayed
The above example shows a section from the painting The Birth of Venus by the painter Adolphe Bouguereau. This picture shows the head of a woman and that of a man. Obviously, a dark incarnate is chosen for the representation of the male, while the female sex is shown in very bright shades.
Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
The color of the skin in art is called incarnate. These shades of white and red tones are usually mixed, with the different artistic tendencies being dominated by different shades of color. Mixtures with the colors green, blue, ocher or also Siena are also a terrestrial clay.
In the coat of arms, the so-called meat color belongs to the heraldic tinctures. However, it is usually avoided and occurs only in the subordinate components of a coat of arms. The red, blue, green and black coat of arms predominantly dominate the coat of arms, which are reproduced in a strong and uniform color.