Manufacturer and builder 11, 1869
In very early art we find color used in a symbolical or mystic sense; and until the ancient principles or traditions were wholly worn out of memory, or set aside by the later painters, certain colors were appropriate to certain subjects and personages, and could not arbitrarily be applied or misapplied. In the old specimens of stained glass, we find the following sig-nifications scrupulously attended to:
White, represented by the diamond or silver, was the emblem of light, religious purity, innocence, virginity, faith, joy, and life. Our Saviour wears white after his resurrection. In the judge, it indicated integrity; in the rich man, humility; in the woman, chastity. It was the color consecrated to the Virgin, who, however, never wears white, except in pictures of the Assumption.
Red, the ruby signified fire, divine love, the Holy Spirit, heat or the creative power, and royalty. White and red roses express love and innocence, or love and wisdom, as in the garland with which the angels crowned St. Cecilia. In a bad sense, red signified blood, war, hatred, and punishment. Red and black combined were the colors of purgatory and the devil.
Blue, or the sapphire, expressed heaven, the firmament, truth, constancy, fidelity. Christ and the Virgin wear the red tunic and the blue mantle, as signifying heavenly love and heavenly truth. The same colors were given to St. John the Evangelist, with this difference, that he wore the blue tunic and the red mantle; in later pictures, the colors are sometimes red and green.
Yellow, or gold, was the symbol of the sun; of the goodness of God, initiation or marriage, faith or fruit-fulness. In pictures of the apostles, St. Peter wears a yellow mantle over a blue tunic. In a bad sense, yellow signifies inconstancy, jealousy, deceit; in this sense, it is given to the traitor Judas, who is generally habited in dirty yellow.
Green, the emerald, is the color of spring, of hope, particularly hope in immortality, and of victory, as the color of the palm and the laurel.
Violet, the amethyst, signified love and truth; or passion and suffering. Hence it is the color often worn by the martyrs. In some instances the Saviour, after his resurrection, is habited in a violet instead of a blue mantle. The Virgin also wears violet after the crucifixion. Mary Magdalen, who, as patron saint, wears the red robe, as penitent wears violet and blue, the colors of sorrow and of constancy. In the devotional representation of her by Timotese della Vita she wears red and green, the colors of love and hope.
Gray, the color of ashes, signified mourning, humility, and innocence accused; hence adopted as the dress of the Franciscans, (the Gray Friars,) but it has since been changed to a dark rusty brown.
Black, expressed the earth, darkness, mourning, wickedness, negation, death, and was appropriate tc, the Prince of Darkness. In some very old illuminated manuscripts Jesus, in the Temptation, wears a black robe. White and black together signify purity of life, and mourning or humiliation; hence adopted by the Dominicans and the Carmelites. The mystical application of colors and attributes was more particularly attended to in that class of sub. jects which are distinguished as devotional, and, as above remarked, is specially noticeable in the old specimens of stained glass.