auditorium, vitraux, musée Chagall, photo Gilles Ehrentrant, 2021
Conferences and symposiums

Lecture by Michel Pastoureau

Pink : History and symbolism of colours
Tuesday 9 April 2024, 7pm
Musée national Marc Chagall

Michel Pastoureau

Pink: the history of an uncertain colour
Lecture in French

Although pink occurs naturally, it wasn't until quite late in the game that human beings began to use it in paints and dyes. In Europe, before the 14th century, it was rare in both material culture and artistic creation. It became more common in clothing at the end of the Middle Ages, thanks to the use of a dye imported from India and then the New World: Brazil wood. Its popularity peaked in the 18th century, when it became both romantic and feminine, a symbol of softness, pleasure and happiness. At the same time, horticulturists succeeded in creating pink roses: they were so popular that the flower ended up giving its name to a colour that until then had had none. 

Today, pink is less a part of everyday life than it was during the Romantic period. It is also highly ambivalent: some of our contemporaries find it too flashy or distasteful, especially when used on its own, while others admire it and see it as an emblematic colour of modernity.

Michel Pastoureau was born in Paris in 1947, where he was immersed in the culture of the Surrealists, of whom his father was a member. With a passion for history and Latin, he studied at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes. There he wrote his thesis on heraldic bestiary in the Middle Ages. A historian and archivist-palaeographer, he was curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale (1972-1983), at the Cabinet des Médailles (1975-1983) and director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), where he has held the chair of history of Western symbolism since 1983. He is a member of the Académie internationale d'héraldique, President of the Société française d'héraldique et de sigillographie (2008-2017) and teaches regularly at the École du Louvre.

Michel Pastoureau has published some forty books, some of which have been translated into several languages. Since 2000, they have been devoted to the history of colours, animals and symbols in Europe, from Antiquity to the present day. In 2010, he was awarded the Prix Médicis for Les Couleurs de nos souvenirs. His main books on the subject of Histoire d'une couleur are : Blue (2000), Black (2008), Green (2013), Red (2016) and Yellow (2019).

This programme of lectures is a co-production of UCArts - Direction de la Culture d'Université Côte d'Azur and the National Museums of the 20th Century in the Alpes-Maritimes. The six conferences are organised in partnership with the Association of the Friends of the Marc Chagall national Museum

The programme has been put together by the museum in collaboration with Josiane Rieu, professor of 16th-century French literature at the Université Côte d'Azur and member of the CTEL, Centre Transdisciplinaires d'Epistémologie de la Littérature et des Arts Vivants. 

To find out more about our conferences programme for the 2023-24 season

Practical Information

on Tuesday March 9th, on 7:00pm
lecture duration : around 1:30 
Admission free, subject to availability.
Booking strongly recommended (limited capacity) via the Affluence platform. Link coming soon. 

montage logos UCA association Amis du musée Chagall

Michel Pastoureau. Thumbnail photo: © Hermance Triay / Opale, 2023. Poster photo: DR, 2023

Open every day except Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.
November to end of April: 10am to 5pm
May to end of October: 10am to 6pm

Conference in the museum auditorium
Free admission, subject to availability.

Enriching the collections. New acquisitions
from 27 January to 13 May 2024