|A mystical version of Santa Claus|
from Arthur Rackham's Book of Pictures published in 1913.
This painting was done in 1907, pen, ink & watercolour on paper, and is in a Private Collection.
Photo © Chris Beetles Ltd, London / The Bridgeman Art Library
I've long been fascinated by the symbolism of the colour red in folklore and how this permeates into our daily life, often without us realising. At this time of year if we think of red, it will be Santa Claus whose red costume springs to the mind of a lot of people.
|Stag hook with red stone and red + blue wool blanket. |
|Robin and holly|
|The Mystic Wood by John William Waterhouse|
All colours have meanings and the power to change our moods. Red is not a colour for wall flowers, it is primal, capable of elicting extreme reactions. How we feel about red today began in the distant past when red was known as the color of fire and blood, associated with Mars the God of war, and confusingly, both mahesty and liberty, therefore revolutions. It also symbolised passion as the colour of love, and of sin.
|Tudor Rose, Elizabethan lady in red velvet, |
Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester.
|Both majesty and revolutions|
|Immortal passion. Gary Oldman in the red cloak of Dracula. Terrifying.|
Even when used in small amounts it has a potent effect and a deep poignancy. Few colours can evoke such emotion.
This is a celebration of the colour red in a few of it's guises. The history and folklore of red has been academically covered by many and for those who wish to read more serious considerations I have included some links at the bottom of the page and am happy to add more should you know of good sources which I have left out.
I've collected lore about the colour red all of my life and am always delighted when another story appears where red is used. I do love them all.
Alas we have no snow this winter, it is just grey and very wet here in the English countryside. I long for that burst of red against a blanket of white, and this greyness inspired me to share some of my favourite reds.
|Little Red Riding Hood|
Sir John Everett Millais P.R.A.
The model is his daughter
oil on panel, 1864
35.5 by 25cm., 14 by 9¾in.
see bottom of page for details about this painting
|Sarah Moon's rendition. |
An urban black and white tale of dread.
The model is her daughter
Superb in it's simplicity.
|Tribute to Red|
from Surface View
|The Red Hat, Charles A Buchel, 1910|
|Imagine winter nights in this|
|The lore of Apples.|
|Bette Davis wears a red ball gown in 1938 and ruins her reputation|
as ladies should wear white
|Scarlett O'Hara on the red stairs|
Gone With The Wind 1939
|Modern Folklore. David Hemmings drives past the red buildings in Blow Up, 1967. |
Sammy Hagar pays tribute with his 'Red' album of the same street scene in 1977.
|Angela Carter. The Bloody Chamber, 1979|
new stories from the base of old ones
including In the Company of Wolves which became the Neil Jorden 1984 film
|Red Shoes & Ruby Slippers |
The Red Shoes (film 1948), The Wizard Of Oz (film 1939)
Vianne from Chocolat (2000) & The Lollipop Shoes (2007) by Joanne Harris
|For sheer poignancy, a real life story|
The girl in the red coat
Schindler's List 1993
For some it may be difficult to chose a favourite tale which has red at it's heart, but not for me. Thankfully the legacy lives on as new storytellers weave tales of dread and delight around bright red tendrils.
|Modern Red, in the Cotswolds|
detail from She Met a Wolf
|One version of Andrew Lang's Red Fairy Book|
bought from Abe's Books Here:
|The only known illustration from Golden Hood|
you can see clearly she is wearing a hood
and not cloak with a hood.
I tried to photograph a few of my Red Riding Hood pieces which I have collected for years, but Puff the half kitten rather got in the way. She likes to lay amongst them and because she is a magic cat the camera always focusses correctly upon her and not other subjects.
|Puff with my Red Riding Hood figures.|
This is a detail of the small Staffordshire figure. The Wolf seems rather shy as he is hiding under Red's skirt. This figurine is quite old and has a crack running through the bottom.
|Small Staffordshire 'Red' detail|
|Parian Ware 'Red' adorned by a Parrish Relic of Wolves|
|My little Red|
Obviously any self respecting fan of Red, and of Wolves needs to read the tale as recorded firstly Charles Perrault, and later told and retold in different versions by the Brothers Grimm. The earliest known printed version was called Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, by Charles Perrault and may have had its origins in 17th-century French folklore. It is believed that it was he who introduced the red hood or cap, but it is not known whether this idea was his own, or came from folklore.
For the alternative tale, The True History of Little Golden Hood from The Red Fairy Book, read more on Tales Of Faerie Here:and the complete tale on Sur La lune Fairytales Here:
I love the writing of author Joanne Harris and have read, and re-read all of her work. She weaves an intoxicating tale with subtle under and overtures. Her own website is Here:
Being a city girl originally I was immediately struck dumb (and captivated and frightened in equal parts) by the urban depiction of Sarah Moon's Red, Here:
Terri Windling who does not just write about the land of Faerie but embodies it has written so many informative and wondrous pieces on her blog, her article about Red, Here:
Kristin's wonderful site Tales of Faerie and her piece about Red. Here:
Article about Sammy Hagar's Red album and the Blow Up connection,
The Girl in the red coat, the real story, Here:
Parrish Relics own website, Here:
Surface View who offer wonderful art for your walls and home in all kinds of mediums,
Red Riding Hood by Sir John Everett Millais P.R.A.
This was sold at Sotheby's in a sale of British and Irish Art, 19 November 2013,for the amount of 98,500 GBP including the hammer price with the buyer's premium.
"Painted in 1864, Red Riding Hood depicts the artist's eldest daughter Effie (later Mrs James), aged six, carrying a basket of vegetables and wild flowers, at the door of Grannie's house. It is one of a series of charming portraits of Effie, dressed in various costumes, including My First Sermon and My Second Sermon painted in 1863 and The Minuet of 1866 (private collection). He often used his daughters as models and Effie's sisters Mary and Carrie appear in Waking (Perth Art Gallery) and Sleeping (private collection) of 1865. As has been pointed out, 'With child models readily available Millais was able to give free expression to feelings of parental pride and joy, as well as offer comment on the growth of his offspring, with an eye on the market for endearing images of children.' (Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith, Millais, 2007, p.172) Millais was probably inspired to paint Red Riding Hood following the success of James Sant's Little Red Riding Hood of 1860 which had been printed in 1863 in the Illustrated London News as a large chromotype which resulted in the sale of vast numbers of the magazine. The subject was also painted by Watts and Landseer. The moment depicted by Millais captures the tension as Red Riding Hood is about to enter the house to find the wolf dressed in her grand-mother's clothes. However the horror and danger of the story that had been first told by Charles Perrault and retold by the Brothers Grimm, is only implied."