Colors in Christianity

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Here I will explore how colors are used throughout early Christian art and how that helps to effectively demonstrate symbolism. 

Jesus Among the Doctors, Simon Bening, about 1525–1530, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This painting presents a young Jesus holding court amongst a group of much older men. The artist depicted Jesus in a blue robe with a gold aurora surrounding him. The color blue represents while Gold has long been associated with a divine sphere
Jesus casts out the merchants, Alfonso Chierici, 1844/1844, From the collection of: Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia
Here, the bright red here represents action. Draped in a striking red robe, Jesus is shown casting a group of merchants from the temple. The golden sun is expertly placed directly behind his head, once again representing the divine sphere.
Christ in the Realm of the Dead, Joakim Skovgaard, 1891-1894, From the collection of: SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst
The pure white robe, and bright lights symbolize the difference between the divine figure and the dark colored souls trapped in realm of the dead. White represents purity while yellow is the symbol of light.
Flight into Egypt, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1828, From the collection of: Kunstpalast
Blue primarily has represented hope in Christian art. This painting shows multiple people covered in blue as the make the hard journey from Egypt. In contrast to this, the Angel present is shown in red. While used primarily to show action, red can also represent spiritual awakening.
There are many colors used in this painting. There is the bright red, representing the spiritual awakening of Moses as he is visited by God. There is also the blue to symbolize the hope and faith Moses had in God. Finally, there is brown, which symbolizes the earth and God's connection to man.
The Virgin Mary, with the Infant and Saint John the Baptist, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509 - 1512, From the collection of: Muzeul Național Brukenthal
We again see two prominent colors in Christian art: Blue and red. But, we also see green in this painting. Green is the color of fertility. As a mother to an infant child, the red can symbolize the joy of life while the blue signifies hope and good health.
This painting is another example of how prominent gold, red, and blue is in Christian art. The Saints in the background, Mary, and baby are all surrounded with the gold circles commonly seen with holy figures. The female figure in the middle, along with multiple children are colored blue to give the scene a sense of hope. The saints are all red to symbolize both spiritual awakening, and the holy spirit. Green is also placed throughout the picture to symbolize freedom.
Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, Calvary and Death of Saint Mary Magdalene, Jaume Huguet, 1465-1480, From the collection of: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC, Barcelona
While a magnitude of colors are used here, gold is the most prominent.Gold is the color most used to symbolize the Divine connection and each figure connected to christ, including Jesus himself, has a golden halo drawn around their head to show their loyalty to Jesus during his crucifixion.
The Kiss of Judas, Master of Retascón, Around 1410-1425, From the collection of: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC, Barcelona
The most symbolic color in this painting would be red. While this color can symbolize many things, here the color is used to show action. Primarily, the action of Judas as he betrays Christ. Gold is also used effectively here. However, a lot of the gold is overshadowed purposely by the red.
The Virgin and Saint John, from a Crucifixion, Unknown maker, German, about 1420, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
The painting depicts two people most close to Jesus: The virgin Mary, his mother and Saint John. His mother is appropriately colored in blue to symbolize her hope in God following her sons death. Saint John, however, is covered in green while holding a golden bible. In his case, the green represents hope and the victory of life over death while the gold is there to connect him to his Divine leader.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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