‘Say what you see!’ It seemed obvious when thinking of a title for this newcomer to my catalogue of works; the painting is simply two pretty little robins perched in the chill of the morning air. It’s easy to see how the refreshing dash of colour on their chests, welcomed by us all in the colder months of the year, inspires so many artists. Emphasised by the muted shades of winter, this very well known bird is commonly called robin red breast, but have you noticed, the red breast is actually orange! So why is the bird described as having a red breast?
Well, before the late 15th century, although the colour orange existed in Europe, it was simply called yellow-red. The earliest known recorded use in English, of the word orange as a colour name, was in 1502, in a description of clothing purchased for Margaret Tudor. Until then, orange things were described as being red eg red deer, red hair, and robin red breast. This custom continued until some observant fellow noticed the colour of a certain fruit ie the orange. The rest is history.