Red: history of a colour…

The colour Red represents many things – core life force & divine love. In the Middle Ages, Red held a place of privilege in the Western world. For many cultures, Red wasn’t just a colour, rather the only colour worthy enough for social purposes. In some languages, the word for Red is the same as the word for colour. The 1st colour created for painting & dying, Red became associated in antiquity with war, wealth, beauty, passion & strength.

In the medieval period, Red held a religious significance as the colour of the blood of Christ. Also, a secular meaning as a symbol of glamour & glory. During the Protestant Reformation, Red fell out of favour, linked to luxury & the excesses of the Catholic Church. After the French Revolution, Red gained new respect as the colour of progressive movements.

Michel Pastoureau masterfully navigates centuries of symbolism & complex meanings to present a fascinating history of the colour – Red. Illuminates Red’s evolution through a diverse, vibrant selection of captivating images like cave paintings of Lascaux, the works of Renaissance masters, modern art, stained glass of Mark Rothko & Josef Albers. Incredibly beautiful.


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