Colourful Language: Red, White and Blue

Alexandra Epps

This live HENI Talk, with Arts Society lecturer Alexandra Epps, explores the symbolism, significance and spirituality of the colours red, white and blue throughout the history of art, drawing upon the oeuvres of some of the most famous colourists. Experience the lustrous red of Pre-Raphaelite red hair; the cool white of Brueghel’s snow; the secret power of Yves Klein’s blue and Mondrian’s dynamic combination of all three.

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The Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli, c.1485

Public Domain Mark 1.0


Beata Beatrix

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864-1867

Photo © Tate

CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)


Monochrome Blue KB 73

Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo


Hunters in the Snow (Winter)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565

Public Domain Mark 1.0


Composition B (No II) with Red

Piet Mondrian, 1935

Photo © Tate

CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)


The Wilton Diptych (detail)

Artist unknown, c.1395-1399

National Gallery, London

(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Blue Nude II

Henri Matisse, 1952

© 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Blue Nude II reconstruction animation

Alexandra Epps, 2018


Blue Nudes(I – IV)

Henri Matisse, 1952


Yves Klein performance, “Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue,”

Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris, 9 March 1960

Photos: Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, 1960

Image numbers:

00010 / 00015 / 00031 / 00034 / 00036

© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

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