The color red has represented many things, from the life force and the divine to love, lust, and anger. Up through the Middle Ages, red held a place of privilege in the Western world. For many cultures, red was not just one color of many but rather the only color worthy enough to be used for social purposes. In some languages, the word for red was the same as the word for color. The first color developed for painting and dying, red became associated in antiquity with war, wealth, and power. In the medieval period, red held both religious significance, as the color of the blood of Christ and the fires of Hell, and secular meaning, as a symbol of love, glory, and beauty. Yet during the Protestant Reformation, red began to decline in status. Viewed as indecent and immoral and linked to luxury and the excesses of the Catholic Church, red fell out of favor. After the French Revolution, red gained new respect as the color of progressive movements and radical left-wing politics. In this beautifully illustrated book, Michel Pastoureau, the acclaimed author of Blue, Black, and Green, now masterfully navigates centuries of symbolism and complex meanings to present the fascinating and sometimes controversial history of the color red. Pastoureau illuminates red's evolution through a diverse selection of captivating images, including the cave paintings of Lascaux, the works of Renaissance masters, and the modern paintings and stained glass of Mark Rothko and Josef Albers.
From antiquity to the present day, color has been embedded with cultural meaning. Associated with blood, fire, fertility, and life force, the color red has always been extremely difficult to achieve and thus highly prized." "This book discusses the origin of the red colorant derived from the insect cochineal, its early use in Precolumbian ritual textiles from Mexico and Peru, and the spread of the American dyestuff through cultural interchange following the Spanish discovery and conquest of the New World in the 16th century. Drawing on examples from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, it documents the use of this red-colored treasure in several media and throughout the world.
In this entertaining history, the renowned medievalist Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearances in prehistoric art to its international ubiquity today in blue jeans and Gauloises cigarette packs. 100 color plates.
American Literature and the Modernization of Color
Author: Nicholas Gaskill
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Category: Literary Criticism
The first major literary and cultural history of color in America, 1880–1930 Chromographia tells the story of how color became modern and how literature, by engaging with modern color, became modernist. From the vivid pictures in children’s books to the bold hues of abstract painting, from psychological theories of perception to the synthetic dyes that brightened commercial goods, color concerned both the material stuff of modernity and its theoretical and artistic formulations. Chromographia spans these diverse practices to reveal the widespread effects on U.S. literature and culture of the chromatic revolution that unfolded at the turn of the twentieth century. In analyzing color experience through the lens of U.S. writers (including Charlotte Perkins Gilman, L. Frank Baum, Stephen Crane, Charles Chesnutt, Gertrude Stein, Nella Larsen, and William Carlos Williams), Chromographia argues that modern aesthetic techniques are inseparable from the theories and technologies that drove modern color. Nicholas Gaskill shows how literature registered the social worlds within which chromatic technologies emerged, and also experimented with the ideas about perception, language, and the sensory environment that accompanied their proliferation. Chromographia is the only study of modern color in U.S. literature. It presents a new reading of perception in literature and a theory of experience that uses color to move beyond the usual divisions of modern thought.
For women at the early modern courts, clothing and jewellery were essential elements in their political arsenal, enabling them to signal their dynastic value, to promote loyalty to their marital court and to advance political agendas. This is the first collection of essays to examine how elite women in early modern Europe marshalled clothing and jewellery for political ends. With essays encompassing women who traversed courts in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Habsburg Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, the contributions cover a broad range of elite women from different courts and religious backgrounds as well as varying noble ranks.
The Production, Circulation, and Application of Dyes and Pigments, 1400-1800
Author: Andrea Feeser
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
The purpose of this essay collection is to recover color's complex and sometimes morally troubling past. By emphasising color's materiality, and how it was produced, exchanged and used, contributors draw attention to the disjuncture between the beauty of color and the blood, sweat, and tears that went into its production, circulation and application as well as to the complicated and varied social meanings attached to color within specific historical and social contexts.
The history of art is inseparable from the history of color. And what a fascinating story they tell together: one that brims with an all-star cast of characters, eye-opening details, and unexpected detours through the annals of human civilization and scientific discovery. Enter critically acclaimed writer and popular journalist Victoria Finlay, who here takes readers across the globe and over the centuries on an unforgettable tour through the brilliant history of color in art. Written for newcomers to the subject and aspiring young artists alike, Finlay’s quest to uncover the origins and science of color will beguile readers of all ages with its warm and conversational style. Her rich narrative is illustrated in full color throughout with 166 major works of art—most from the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Readers of this book will revel in a treasure trove of fun-filled facts and anecdotes. Were it not for Cleopatra, for instance, purple might not have become the royal color of the Western world. Without Napoleon, the black graphite pencil might never have found its way into the hands of Cézanne. Without mango-eating cows, the sunsets of Turner might have lost their shimmering glow. And were it not for the pigment cobalt blue, the halls of museums worldwide might still be filled with forged Vermeers. Red ocher, green earth, Indian yellow, lead white—no pigment from the artist’s broad and diverse palette escapes Finlay’s shrewd eye in this breathtaking exploration.
Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire
Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Harper Collins
A Perfect Red recounts the colorful history of cochineal, a legendary red dye that was once one of the world's most precious commodities. Treasured by the ancient Mexicans, cochineal was sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spain's cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. Desperate to find their own sources of the elusive dye, the English, French, Dutch, and other Europeans tried to crack the enigma of cochineal. Did it come from a worm, a berry, a seed? Could it be stolen from Mexico and transplanted to their own colonies? Pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies -- all joined the chase for cochineal, a chase that lasted more than three centuries. A Perfect Red tells their stories -- true-life tales of mystery, empire, and adventure, in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth.
In this vivid and captivating journey through the colors of an artist’s palette, Victoria Finlay takes us on an enthralling adventure around the world and through the ages, illuminating how the colors we choose to value have determined the history of culture itself. How did the most precious color blue travel all the way from remote lapis mines in Afghanistan to Michelangelo’s brush? What is the connection between brown paint and ancient Egyptian mummies? Why did Robin Hood wear Lincoln green? In Color, Finlay explores the physical materials that color our world, such as precious minerals and insect blood, as well as the social and political meanings that color has carried through time. Roman emperors used to wear togas dyed with a purple color that was made from an odorous Lebanese shellfish–which probably meant their scent preceded them. In the eighteenth century, black dye was called logwood and grew along the Spanish Main. Some of the first indigo plantations were started in America, amazingly enough, by a seventeen-year-old girl named Eliza. And the popular van Gogh painting White Roses at Washington’s National Gallery had to be renamed after a researcher discovered that the flowers were originally done in a pink paint that had faded nearly a century ago. Color is full of extraordinary people, events, and anecdotes–painted all the more dazzling by Finlay’s engaging style. Embark upon a thrilling adventure with this intrepid journalist as she travels on a donkey along ancient silk trade routes; with the Phoenicians sailing the Mediterranean in search of a special purple shell that garners wealth, sustenance, and prestige; with modern Chilean farmers breeding and bleeding insects for their viscous red blood. The colors that craft our world have never looked so bright. From the Hardcover edition.