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Violet is a spectral color, its wavelength being 380 - 420 nm. Thus, violet appears on the short-wavelength end of the visible spectrum. Violet can also be produced by mixing blue and red.

Violet contains many shades, e.g. lilac and mauve. Lilac is pale violet, whereas mauve is often conceived of as greyish violet. The mauve pigment was invented by a young chemist called William Henry Perkin, as he was trying to produce medicine against malaria. Mauve became rapidly a popular color in Europe. However, mauve was soon challenged by fuchsia, invented in the 1860's. Violet was named after the flower violet. The name lilac can be traced back to the arabic word lilac, having the same meaning as the English word.

During history, violet has been connected with many mental qualities, both in religion and mundane life. The scholar Fulvio Morato, who lived in renaissance Italy, regarded violet as a color of agonizing love and disregard for life. Also the artist Wassily Kandinsky described the color as "rather dismal and faint". In Christianity, violet is a color of repentance and conversion. As a liturgical color, it is used during a fast, for instance, at Easter time.

Violet has many meanings in visual arts as well. According to Johannes Itten, a teacher of visual arts, violet is the color of the unconscious, as a contrary to yellow, the color of knowledge. Violet is mysterious, impressive, distressing or it can arouse hope. As large surfaces, violet may have a frightening effect. However, when violet is lightened, it appears sweeter and more cheerful.

Impressionist painters used to favour violet in their work, e.g. as a color of shades. Claude Monet regarded the atmosphere of the Earth as violet. The impressionists produced the color by mixing ultramarine or cobalt blue with red. Genuine and stronger violet pigments were introduced to the market in the 1850's and 1860's.