Like Golden Sunshine - A Short History of Yellow

Like Golden Sunshine - A Short History of Yellow

Published On: 08-14-2013 04:50pm

Comments: 14 - Hits: 0

Category: Collections

Yellow is such a cheerful color.  Just think how a glowing yellow room makes you feel on a gray winter day!  Through the ages, yellow has been associated with sunshine, optimism, good reason, pleasure and gold . . . although there is a downside as it is also came to be related to envy, jealousy and betrayal.  The word comes from the Old English "geolu" or "geolwe" meaning "yellow" or "yellowish".  The Oxford English Dictionary states the oldest known use of the word is from "The Epinal Glossary" in the year 700.

Hand painted daisy necklace and bracelet set by Dawn of JewelryArtbyDawn

Yellow ochre pigment made from clay was one of the first colors used in prehistoric cave art.  The image of a horse, in the cave of Lascaux, France, was colored with yellow and has been estimated to be 17,300 years old.  The ancient Egyptians associated yellow with gold, considered to be eternal and indestructible - that is why the skin and bones of their gods were believed to be gold. Yellow was used extensively in tomb painting, either ochre or a brilliant yellow pigment called, orpiment (although it was made with arsenic and highly poisonous).  A small paintbox of valued orpiment was found in the tomb of King Tut! 

Hammered golden brass, natural sapphire and pearl earrings by @adora_by_Simona

Yellow flower and purple polymer clay bead bracelet with Swarovski crystals by Julie of BlueMorningExpressions

Then the representation of yellow took a turn for the worse during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  At that time, yellow became firmly established as the color of Judas Iscariot (even though the Bible never described his clothing).  Because of this, yellow became associated with with envy, jealousy and duplicity.  During the Renaissance, the tradition of marking non-Christians, such as Jews, with yellow began.  Think of the yellow Star of David the Nazis required Jews to wear in the 1930 and 1940.  During the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century, people who were accused of heresy and who refused to renounce their vows were forced to wear a yellow cape when brought before judges to hear their (usually) fatal verdict.

"Tropical Sunrise" pendant with carnelian, citrine, garnet and gold-filled wire by Margaret of BohoWireWrapped

Golden nephrite jade and rose quartz gemstone bracelet by Anna of CraftsofthePast

When synthetic pigments and dyes became to be manufactured in the 18th and 19th centuries, the traditional yellow made from arsenic, cow urine and other substances was quickly replaced.  Painters especially liked the ease of acquiring the color now.  Vincent Van Gogh was one of the first to use commercially manufactured paints rather than ones he made himself.  He especially loved yellow and once wrote to his sister from the south of France in 1888, "Now we are having beautiful warm, windless weather . . . The sun, a light that for lack of a better word I can only call yellow, bright sulfur yellow, pale lemon gold.  How beautiful yellow is!"  Van Gogh painted many bright, golden sunflowers.

Sunflower charm earrings with cheerful yellow glass and orange jade by Mary of PrettyGonzo

Olivine jade bracelet with a pewter bee charm by Elaine of zoomgraphik

I have to agree with Vincent Van Gogh:  "How beautiful yellow is!"  And because of that feeling, I curated a new collection called "Like Golden Sunshine" featuring jewelry in many shades of sunny yellow handmade by talented designers in the Jewelry Creators Unite in Numbers (JCUiN) guild.  I hope you visit the collection and drool over the designs (:

Golden copal and turquoise earrings by Catherine of ShadowDogDesigns

Please make my day and leave a comment here on my blog and on the "Like Golden Sunshine" JCUiN collection.  Any promotion you can do will be greatly appreciated by all artists involved (:  Thanks!

My contact information:

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SocialBliss:  Catherine Waterhouse
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Google+:  Catherine W
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SupaDupa:  Shadow Dog Designs

Shadow Dog Designs
Beautifully Unique Handmade Jewelry
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Reader's Comments

By DesertCreations on 08/18/2013 @ 10:32pm

I always love your posts I learn so much :) Amazing finds as well :)

By adora_by_simona on 08/16/2013 @ 10:40pm

Warm sunshine, sweet honey, precious gold - the energy that the color yellow brings into our home is always cheerful and positive. And that is exactly how I feel after reading your blog: cheerful and positive. Thank you, Catherine for sharing your research with us, I very much enjoyed reading it and I also learned a lot from it. And of course, thank you for including my earrings in your selection, I am honored to be featured among all these talented artists! Will share... :)

By PolkadotOrchid on 08/16/2013 @ 04:22pm

It's amazing what sort of connotations can be associated with a color. I loved hearing your history - I'm going to have to start looking for what color Judas is wearing when I look at old artwork now!

By PutmanLakeDesigns on 08/16/2013 @ 01:49pm

Yellow is just so cheerful. I never knew of the envy and jealousy side of it. Again, new knowledge for me. Thank you. Charming pieces.

By Guest on 08/15/2013 @ 10:23pm

Thank you for including my bracelet ....will share :O)

By ChristieCottage on 08/15/2013 @ 11:55am

Learning experience... again! LOL <><

By JewelryArtByDawn on 08/15/2013 @ 04:47am

Absolutely adore yellow! My kitchen is painted a wheat yellow trimmed in brick red and it's the happiest room in the house especially during winter. When I think yellow, words like cheerful, bright, happy and uplifting come to mind. Despite some of the negative connotations of the past, yellow remains a color that is revered as bright and cheerful. Thank you so much for including my dancing daisies pendant with the beautiful items you selected to feature in this wonderful blog post - it's an honor. In this instance, I don't mind being called a tease either!

By ShadowDogDesigns on 08/14/2013 @ 11:32pm

Thank you, everyone! When we lived in Canada and Northern VA, we painted our family rooms a beautiful mellow yellow. The sunshiney color sure helped to get through dreary winter days (:

By EweniqueEssentials on 08/14/2013 @ 08:31pm

Although I don't usually wear yellow, I like yellow accents and the brightness it adds to our world from sunflowers and daffodils to bright sunshine after a rain shower. Now I'm off to check out your collection!

By bluemorningexpressions on 08/14/2013 @ 08:18pm

Yellow will always be a positive and energetic color in my book, regardless of the negative connotations. This is a wonderful post filled with high energy and happy smiles. Those are the things that yellow bring. Thank you for including my polymer clay yellow flower bracelet. Sharing the post. Julie and Blu

By PrettyGonzo on 08/14/2013 @ 07:57pm

Another fantastic blog post, Catherine! When I was a little girl, yellow seemed the most magical color of all, and it remains my ultimate favorite. Many thanks for including my earrings with all these cheerful, sunny beauties! :)

By craftsofthepast on 08/14/2013 @ 05:35pm

I never tire of looking at yellow things, from children's blonde hair to daffodils or autumn leaves. The California sunshine is so yellow that I have to hide my photos from its reflection off my surroundings when I made pics of my listings! But I like it so much that I don't have window coverings in my house. ;) Will hush now and go share this happy blog. anna

By craftingmemories on 08/14/2013 @ 05:31pm

I love yellow, and you have found some really beautiful yellow jewelry.

By KanweieneaKreations on 08/14/2013 @ 05:02pm

Beautiful items! Perfect blog post title too :).

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