Purple looms large in much of the globe. In the celebrations of Mardi Gras of Louisiana in the southern United States, the predominant traditional colors are green, gold and purple, signifying faith, power and justice respectively. In some Asian cultures, in which the art of placement we know as feng shui is honored, purple is associated with high rank, material prosperity or wealth. In some western cultures, only royalty were entitled to wear the color.
The purple they wore was generally a deep plum color derived from the murex, a shellfish of the eastern Mediterranean. The processes of obtaining the dye in antiquity were very complex – hence the rarity and expense of the dye – as well as extremely smelly. In 1856, with the accidental discovery by William Perkin of the color we now call mauve, a variety of purple dyes based on coal tar derivatives became much more available and affordable.
We 21st-century artists now have the benefits of modern chemistry and can obtain pigments from quite a variety of sources – animal, vegetable and mineral.
In this selection of work from my studio, you’ll notice a preponderance of spring flowers — tulips, lilacs, irises — as well as some plants like bachelor’s buttons and lavender that bloom later in the year.
More fragrant than boiled up murex.
Artwork in Purple
Below are works of art available for purchase in rich purple, some of them are showcased in the video.