Purple Silk

This week’s featured painting is “Silver, Plum, Purple Silk” from 2019.  It is done with oil on panel, and measures 5 x 5 inches.

This simple arrangement rests on a foundation of purple damask silk.

Being a fan of history, I’ve encountered numerous mentions of purple silk in my readings.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, silk was perhaps the luxury item, imported from China – a lengthy and dangerous overland trip along the forerunners of the Silk Road.


The purple dye was extracted from the Murex snail, found principally in the Eastern Mediterranean – one of the archaic names for this color is Tyrian Purple, named after the city of Tyre in modern Lebanon.

Often thousands of these small snails were required just to dye a single small strip of cloth – the labor involved made this color extraordinarily expensive.

The dyed material was especially prized in ancient Rome and subsequently Byzantium, where sumptuary laws often restricted its use to members of the Imperial family and high officers of state.


Silk has a beautiful visual language all its own – its molecular structure allows it to reflect light in a shimmering way, with hints of gold and silver creating great depth and vibrancy.

Even in its simplest form – as in this painting – it is truly a majestic fabric.

Canvas prints of this painting are available.  To see more, click the blue button below.