In one oddball example, Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim
oversaturated the figures, blanching the skin of the Virgin and child so that they are albino, the sumptuous blue of her gown framing her protuberant, milk-white breast and ermine cloak. It is the chorus of waxy, red and blue cherubim that surround the pair, however, that elude clear signification.
Still, today, the balance of red and blue, male and female, remains key to upholding Christian-defined gender norms—traditions we don’t seem fully yet able to let go of. Whereas in an earlier age, the color-coding of Jesus and Mary linked red to masculinity and blue to femininity, values that eventually flipped. But who knows where the symbolic meanings of these colors will take us in the future as we continue to evolve our ideas about gender roles, religion, and art.