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Red: The History of a Color


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Table of Contents

Introduction 7 The First Color (From Earliest Times To The End Of Antiquity) 12 The First Palettes 16 Fire and Blood 22 With Pliny among the Painters 30 Dyeing in Red 37 Roman Purple 40 Red in Everyday Life 44 Evidence from the Lexicon 50 The Favorite Color (Sixth To Fourteenth Centuries) 54 The Four Reds of the Church Fathers 58 The Blood of Christ 64 The Red of Power 69 The First Color of Heraldry 74 Love, Glory, and Beauty 80 Blue versus Red 86 The Wardrobes of Beautiful Florentine Ladies 90 A Controversial Color(Fourteenth To Seventeenth Centuries) 94 In the Flames of Hell 98 Judas, the Redhead 102 Hatred of Red 108 The Red of Painters 116 A Primary Color 126 Fabric and Clothing 130 Little Red Riding Hood 135 A Dangerous Color? (Eighteenth To Twenty-First Centuries) 140 On the Margins of Red: Pink 144 Makeup and Society Life 152 Red Caps and Flags: In the Midst of the Revolution 163 A Political Color 167 Emblems and Signals 176 Red for the Present Day 181 Notes 195 Bibliography 209 Photography Credits214 Acknowledgments 216

About the Author

Michel Pastoureau is a historian and director of studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes de la Sorbonne in Paris. A specialist in the history of colors, symbols, and heraldry, he is the author of many books, including Green, Black, and Blue (all Princeton) and The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.


"Love, oh love, oh bloody love! So intense, so beautiful, so treacherous--so red... The new book Red: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau ... considers red in all its manifold guises. A richly and imaginatively illustrated survey filled with history, lore, religion, science, cosmetics, archaeology, medicine, alchemy, superstition, magic, linguistics, and even recipes for pigments, the book ambitiously traverses the centuries from prehistoric times to the present."--Barbara A. MacAdam, ARTnews "Pastoureau is the world's most distinguished and influential historian of colour, and ... his life's work on the symbolism of the spectrum is one of the great humane projects of our day."--Kevin Jackson, Literary Review "Pastoureau ... deftly weaves a tapestry that takes in not just the history of Western art, but also etymology, fairy tales and even the origins of modern road signage in heraldry. There can be no doubting his passion."--Stephen Patience, World of Interiors "Red is the color of lovers, blood, and anguish, and often signifies intensity. It is no doubt one of the most important colors in our history. Michel Pastoureau examines its significance through a slew of analytical essays and photographs that reveal the complex and, at times, controversial nature of the color and its relation to other hues."--Metropolis "Gorgeous... [A] splendid book, beautiful to look at and fascinating to read."--Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe "Does the warning red of our stop signs burble up from the color's association with medieval morality? Does the emergence of red as an ideological identity in right-wing American politics have some echo of the color's use as a symbol of power, such as the red cloak of Charlemagne and the Phrygian cap of the French Revolution? Michel Pastoureau's Red: The History of a Color, recently released by Princeton University Press, is a concise biography of the complex symbolism and perception of this hue of blood and fire."--Allison Meier, Hyperallergic "Beautifully and imaginatively illustrated ... Red is less a theory than a very readable compendium of fascinating facts... Red contains more than enough engrossing diversions that act like a traffic light and bring you to a stop."--Michael Prodger, The Times "Superb."--Vanity Fair "A wonderful book."--Le Figaro Magazine "A heady story of colors."--Telerama "An exciting cultural journey through the color red."--La vie "A rich and exciting story, a transversal approach, accessible to all."--Le Journal des Arts "A captivating human, sociological and spiritual history."--Connaissance des Arts

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