Monday, August 1, 2011

Royals' Favorite Colors

      Queen Cleopatra aroused the Romans' jealousy by flaunting luxurious purple sails on her royal barge. She was not timid about displaying her wealth in her wardrobe as well. Her untimely death plunged her realm into darkness in many ways as the non-flamboyant Romans pillaged her country.
      Queen Elizabeth I wore red during her youth, perhaps to compliment her red locks. After 1558, when she became queen of England, she began to dress in white to symbolize herself as the Virgin Queen. She also wore black to keep in step with Spanish fashion. Her other favorite colors for her wardrobe were gold for special occasions, and in subdued moods she wore peach, ash and tawny colors. After some of the Spanish ships transporting the highly prized red dyed goods produced in their colonies were captured by the English pirate ships, the rich color was seen more often in members of the English court. The queen had her servants dressed in scarlet livery, perhaps as a sign of the English victory over the Spanish Armada. Vivid colors denoted wealth and high status among those well connected in all realms. In contrast, the poor and penitential wore dull neutrals or black.
      During Queen Victoria's reign, a profusion of colors were harmonized by the simple act of darkening them until they all became relatively easily balanced tones, much like the colors in Turkish carpets which became commonplace in upper and middle class interiors. Garish colors made from the newly invented synthetic dyes, such as aniline purple, alizarin crimson, and chromium oxide green gained widespread use. The Victorians thought white made modish high ceilings seem excessively high and chilling. Heavy curtains and stained glass were used to help cut down the light coming inside.
      In a recent post, I revealed that PrinceWilliam's favorite color is blue while his wife Princess Catherine prefers white. Queen Elizabeth II wore yellow, her favorite hue, to their wedding.


The latter two artists were the finest draftsmen France ever produced. Caillebotte was a subtle colorist who used black effectively. The American Warhol began with product-true colors as in his tomato-soup cans of 1962. He soon flamboyantly digressed into "off" colors--- pink, orange, acid yellow, mint green, mauve and cyan--- colors that were consciously non-naturalistic and influenced by color TV and the huge increase in full-color print advertising since WWII. Applied quite flat in harsh, ever-changing combinations, they were a rebuke to commerce for appropriating the rich language of color to non-aesthetic ends.



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