Oil Paintings Have a Case of the Blues

Sonia Weiser
istock / istock

[h/t Smithsonian]

Art is getting more blue—literally. According to Martin Bellander, a Ph.D. student at the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden, over the course of the last two centuries, oil paintings have been incorporating more blue into their palates. Bellander compared digital pictures of 120,013 paintings created between 1250 and 2010. Using a random selection of 100 pixels per painting, he was able to plot them on a graph and track color usage trends.

Martin Bellander

He discovered that over time, paintings have become more blue and less orange. While Bellander isn't entirely certain as to why this is the case, he does have a few theories. "[T]he marked increase of blue at the time of the First World War might actually reflect a true trend in color use," he writes on his blog. Paint price, and colors fading over time, could also be contributing factors to the late 20th century's case of the blues.

[h/t Smithsonian]