Coloring the Narrative: Color Symbolism in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting
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Numerous attributes grace the allegorical personifications in Cesare Ripa's 1593 Iconologia; included among these are colored gowns. In the seventeenth-century, Karel van Mander, Samuel van Hoogstraten, and Gesina ter Borch also write of the symbolism found in color. However, such color symbolism is rarely mentioned in modern interpretations of Dutch narrative paintings. Three case studies seek to test the applicability and limitations of color symbolism as an interpretative tool in narrative paintings by Karel van Mander, Samuel van Hoogstraten and Gerard ter Borch. In these, color symbolism provides the meaning behind decorum when interpreted through figures' garments. The appendix contains a comparative chart of the color symbolism in texts by Cesare Ripa, Karel van Mander, Justus de Harduijn, Gesina ter Borch, and Samuel van Hoogstraten.