Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Green

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Workshop of Leonardo Marini, 
Design for a Palace Interior Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

We are diving deeper into our look at historic colour schemes used in Georgian England after we kicked off the series with a look at the use of red throughout history.  As one of our first blog posts (ever!) covered the colour yellow (which you can read here), we are going to move on to look at the colour green today.

green interior

Anonymous interior design scheme with green walls adorned with trophies 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Pea green was a highly prized colour by contemporary Georgian society.  Lady Caroline Fox had her dressing room painted in pea green in 1759 so it would match her collection of china.  Sir William Chambers, a well respected architect and designer in his day, wrote to a client about his interior colour scheme and advised that he would be using a ‘fine stone Colour’ through except for the ‘Eating Parlour’ where he would use the aforementioned pea green colour.

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François Gérard, Madame Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord in an interior rich with green circa 1804 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

The poet Goethe also favoured the colour green for use in interiors, remarking ‘The eye experiences a distinctly grateful impression from this colour… Hence fro rooms to live in constantly, the green colour is most generally selected.’  Though this colour was certainly not going to come cheap… A ‘fine deep green’ was one of the most expensive colours found in 18th century interiors, coming in at six to seven times more expensive than the common colours, averaging 2s 6d per pound.

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A Pair of 19th century Curule Form Armchairs upholstered in green silk velvet 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

There are numerous important and impressive interiors from the 18th century that prominently featured green as a colour scheme.  The gallery at Osterley Park is one that comes to mind, along with the dining room at Newhailes, East Lothian (we are delighted to have a pair of chairs from Newhailes, although they were destined for the library  rather than the dining room!).  One of the most enchanting rooms is at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, where the Tribune is painted a very soft green that is offset by gilded gothic tracery.

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A Pair of George III Console Tables in the manner of James Wyatt with green marble tops 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We have put together a Pinterest board featuring our favourite green interiors along with some pieces from our collection that feature green.  Have a look here to see more.

A fundamental source for any study of historic colour schemes is Patrick Baty’s The Anatomy of Colour, which has been an invaluable resource for us both for this particular blog post but also for our general research.  Learn more about Patrick’s fascinating work at his website

2 thoughts on “Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Green

  1. Pingback: Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Blue | The Source

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday to… Us! One Year of Blogging | The Source

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