How did the color red come to be?
The color red is believed to have first been found thanks to Ochre. Ochre is a form of clay that is colored by the presence of iron oxide. It was then ground up and turned into a substance that could be used in ancient cave paintings. Indeed, ancient paintings have been found in Spanish caves that date back to the 16,500 to 15,000 BC timeframe. Red pigments, though, have been found in many ancient cultures.
For example, ancient Chinese culture from the Han Dynasty era – around 200 BC to 200 AD – came from the pigmentation of lead tetroxide. Rubia plants in India, too, were a common substance used to create a clear red substance. Red has been around as part of our color coordination for centuries.
During the Renaissance era of human history, red was one of the most important colors. It was often used to point out the protagonist of any picture. For example, Titian’s The Assumption is a painting that showcases religious deities such as God, the Virgin Mary, and two apostles. Their robes stand out due to the rich, endearing red.
So, old prehistoric art first used red as it was a color that was easily created simply by using what was found in nature itself. During ceremonies, too, it was common within ancient cultures to use red face paint. The Romans even colored their entire bodies red to celebrate great victories.