Deep Blue and Yellow

The above photograph reminded me of one summer night in Madrid. Sitting on the steps of my uncle’s house, too jet-lagged to sleep, I was stunned by what I saw: as it grew dark, everything became deep blue and yellow.

In painting both deep blue and yellow (or gold) are considered mystical colors. The dark, enigmatic blue (also known as cobalt blue) has its own name in Spanish: azulón.

Most Spanish artists love using these two colors to represent the mysterious powers of the universe. Here are two famous examples:

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Saint Agatha” by Francisco de Zurbarán (detail), between 1630-33, oil on canvas, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France.

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The Gold of the Azure by Joan Miró, 1967, acrylic on canvas, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain.
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An image from the 2013″Zurbaran on the Catwalk” (“Zurbarán en la Pasarela” ) fashion show in Seville.

This fashion show, featuring both established and emerging Spanish fashion designers, set out to reinterpret the outfits from the Las Santas de Zurbarán” – “The Women Saints of Zurbaran“, a series of paintings by the famous Spanish baroque master. The above creation is by a novice designer (couldn’t get her/his name, unfortunately). Judging by the stylized shepherdess cloak, the model is representing this painting by Zurbarán:

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“Saint Margaret of Antioch” (1630-4, oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London, England).

The first modern Spanish designer to acknowledge his debt to Zurbarán was Cristóbal Balenciaga.

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Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895 – 1972), in 1950.

Another Spanish couturier, Elio Berhanyer (who once worked with Balenciaga and designed for Hollywood celebrities like Ava Gardner), refers to Zurbarán as Spain‘s first fashion designer.

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Elio Berhanyer, b. 1929. Photo:

Prominent fashion designer and Andalusian native Elio Berhanyer was in charge of putting together a team of designers for the show and contributed his own designs, drawing inspiration from Zurbarán‘s “Saint-Casilda” and “Saint Isabel of Portugal“.


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“Saint Elizabeth of Portugal” by Francicso de Zurbarán (1638-42, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid).
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Elio Berhanyers sketch for “Saint Elizabeth of Portugal”.
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Elio Berhanyer‘s vision of Zurbarán’s “Saint Casilda” (ca. 1630-35, oil on canvas, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid).

Two golden angels on the catwalk:

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Designer: Pedro Moreno.
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The venue: former palace of the marquesses de la Algaba, one of the best examples of mudejár-style buildings in Seville.
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Deep blue and yellow from Elio Berhanyer‘s 2010 Spring-Summer collection. Photo:

Featured image: Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz province, Andalusia, Spain) at dusk.


About Me

Ann Mailsi is a writer and social media buff based in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada. Her interests include fashion, technology, and nature adventures.

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