Saturday, December 11, 2010

hmm what the wear?

"Sir Galahad, robed in red (the color emblematic of purity)." Throughout each painting Sir Galahad is adorned with a red robe or cape, which is said in number III of the BPL outline of Edwin Austin Abbey's paintings to be symbolic of purity? I find that strange, because I would normally associate white with purity and red with sin, guilt, passion etc. This seems problematic for Galahad, for he is supposed to be the virgin knight destined to overcome sin and redeem the world by setting free virtues.
Also, in the boat with Galahad in number XII are three tree branches, one white, one green and one red. The white which is representative of the tree of life, the green branch for when Cain was begotten and red when Cain killed his brother Abel. I believe the red cape is not worn by Galahad because it symbolizes purity, but because it does represent sin, guilt and passion, which Galahad must overcome for 'the world.'


Marie de France said...
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Marie de France said...

The red cape was troublesome to me, as well. Though Galahad is often depicted in very honorable or awestricken ways throughout the collection, the color still seemed off to me. However, in some of the paintings many angels or clergy are shown in white. I agree with the idea that red is used to show what Galahad must overcome, but perhaps it also used to simply make him stand out. Galahad is pure, as we all know very well, but putting him in white with many others in the same color would wash him out. Since these painting are a tribute to his quest and eventual accomplishment of finding the grail, matching his cloak to what many others in the paintings are wearing would not show how important this task was. Even if it does seem like a trivial waste of time since the kingdom completely depleted and many knights who were supposedly not as worthy as Galahad perished due to it, BUT! I digress... The use of red not only shows what Galahad has to work against but puts focus on him. Trivial or not, this Abbey person thought his quest was worthy of many fantastic murals.