Blue The History of a Colour – Michel Pastoureau

I wanted to read the book Blue: History of a Colour because I have a very different relationship with blue. When I was little, I never liked it. It seemed like an icy, absurd colour. As I got older, my relationship with blue improved. “Blue jeans”, “blues” and more entered my life. There was no escape from it, anywhere. But why? What has changed? Even though it is not my favourite, I have warmer feelings for blue, which is a cold colour.


Blue: The History of a Colour - Michel Pastoureau

What role do the colours we never think about play in our lives? How do we change them? How do we use them? Does the meaning of colours change from politics, religion, literature to music? Why did blue become the symbolic figure of German Romanticism? How did the painters determine the fate of the colours? How did blue, which was never sought after or even underrated, become Europe’s favourite colour? Which country applies which colours to characterize the feelings of sorrowful people?

These and the questions that I have not asked here are answered pleasantly in this book. Even if you don’t like this colour (you are in a small audience), its history will fascinate you. Enjoy!

Blue: The History of a Colour - Michel Pastoureau

Blue The History of a Colour

A beautifully illustrated visual and cultural history of the color blue throughout the ages Blue has had a long and topsy-turvy history in the Western world. The ancient Greeks scorned it as ugly and barbaric, but most Americans and Europeans now cite it as their favorite color. In this fascinating history, the renowned medievalist Michel Pastoureau traces the changing meanings of blue from its rare appearance in prehistoric art to its international ubiquity today.

Any history of color is, above all, a social history. Pastoureau investigates how the ever-changing role of blue in society has been reflected in manuscripts, stained glass, heraldry, clothing, paintings, and popular culture. Beginning with the almost total absence of blue from ancient Western art and language, the story moves to medieval Europe. As people began to associate blue with the Virgin Mary, the color became a powerful element in church decoration and symbolism. Blue gained new favor as a royal color in the twelfth century and became a formidable political and military force during the French Revolution. As blue triumphed in the modern era, new shades were created and blue became the color of romance and the blues.

Finally, Pastoureau follows blue into contemporary times, when military clothing gave way to the everyday uniform of blue jeans and blue became the universal and unifying color of the Earth as seen from space. Beautifully illustrated, Blue tells the intriguing story of our favorite color and the cultures that have hated it, loved it, and made it essential to some of our greatest works of art.

Michel Pastoureau

Michel Pastoureau is a French professor of medieval history and an expert in Western symbology.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-fiction a Month

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