The Dove, the Olive Branch, and
the Golden Spiral
The now ubiquitous peace symbol of a dove and olive branch has an unusual history. Though it was initially used by Christians, it is derived from a number of sources. The Biblical story of Noah and the Flood tells of a dove returning to the Arc with a freshly plucked olive leaf. The leaf reveals proof of land, the end of the flood, and for Christians the parallel of baptism. In this context the symbol did not, however, specifically carry the connection of peace.
Christians apparently derived the dove and olive branch as a symbol of peace from two sources. In the New Testament, the Spirit of God that descended upon Jesus during his baptism is compared to a dove. In early Christian art the dove is often used to represent the peace of the soul.
The use of the olive branch, on the other hand, dates back to ancient Greece, five centuries before Christ. Irene, the goddess of peace, was said to be very fond of the olive. To the ancient Greeks the olive tree represented abundance and was also believed to be able drive away evil spirits.
In more modern times, it is not until 1949, when Picasso created the poster for the World Peace Congress that the symbol regained prominence as the great symbol of peace.
In creating a painting to suggest peace and harmony, I have not only employed this famous peace symbol but I have also use some famous geometric harmony. The Golden Spiral occurs frequently in natural design, leading many designers to believe in a divine quality to its beauty and harmony.
In this painting, I have employed this famous spiral with a little twist. To suggest the need for humanity to “stretch” its capacity for harmony I have correspondingly stretched the spiral in this painting’s composition.
The center of interest, the lead dove’s eye, is positioned at the spiral’s eye. The dove’s left wing approximates the initial arc as the tree line picks up the spiral and the remaining two doves are arranged along the spiral as well.