The Rich History of Color in Europe
This is a color analysis of the MET's European Paintings Collection by
artistic movement (from 1200-1900).
Explore each art movement seperately to see the evolution of color usage.
Red pigment was among the first used in Europe (brought from Asia through trade). Brown, orange, and red colors were common. (1200-1430)
During the Renaissance period, oil painting was established allowing artists more innovation in painting techniques, and as a consequence, subject matter. We see a burst in number of paintings and first signs of green. However, it is not frequently used and red still remains the predominant pigment. (1430-1550)
Entering artistic movements with a focus on nature (ex: Rococo and Romanticism), we see a rise in the use of the green pigment and a lot of creamy green colors. Red continues to overpower because it remains the cheapest and most accessible pigment.(1705-1750) & (1805-1850)
Although there were signs of blue early on, it only became popular in the 18th century because with increasing technology, it became less expensive.(1890-1920)
The rich color breakdown of the entire collection of European paintings from the Dark Ages to the Modern Art era. Over 2,287 paintings have been analyzed. Although we see interesting transitions of color based on the artistic movement, neutral warm tones are consistently popular. This could be a consequence of accessibilty and taste.