The Changing Color Schemes of Victorian Homes

John Gloag

The dark crimsons of fabrics and wallpaper, and the grained and varnished woodwork. . . were succeeded by less soporific and more adventurous colour schemes. Velvet, serge or damask curtains trimmed with ball fringes and tassels, and heavy flock wallpapers in deep red, dark green or blue, covered with exaggerated damask patterns and almost hidden by large realistic paintings in wide gilded frames, were replaced by vivid colours, introduced with dazzling effect, for aniline dyes had been invented, which surpassed in harsh brilLiancy the hues obtainable by vegetable dyes. These peacock greens and blues, magentas, violets and raw pinks were used with more enthusiasm than discrimination. Such strong colours were popular until the so-called "Aesthetic Movement" subdued everything, and olive greens and greys and dull blues were accepted as evidence of artistic rectitude. Some advanced people used white as a background, though this was rather daring.

References

Gloag, John. Victorian Comfort: A Social History of Design, 1830-1900. A. C. Black, 1961. (Reprinted 1973 by David and Charles, Newton Abbot.)


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Last modified 29 August 2001