It is fraught with emotion, symbolic of elevated status, and the last color a human being can perceive on the horizon. It has given its name to describe days of the week and dozens of pop songs, even lending itself to an entire genre of music. One of the three primary colors, with red and yellow, blue has the power to convey luxury, joy, danger, pain, dignity, sadness, and quietude. The ancient Picts painted their bodies blue to frighten their enemies and blue devils signify death and Hell. But blue can also signify the purity of goddesses and the steadfastness of friends. Blue stretches from the firmament above to the gems of the earth.
As literary historian Herman Pleij as phrased it, “The color blue has by far the greatest variety of negative connotations and the widest range of possible interpretations. This must have something to do with the extremely positive connotations the color also carries.”
In this exhibit of rare books from our holdings in the Archives & Rare Books Library, we present examples of the use of the color blue from hundreds of years ago to our present era, showing its use in books that cover a range of cultural meanings and heritage from around the world. Blue is not only a color we see in our everyday lives, but a color we feel as well, a color that is almost tangible. We invite you in.