Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Blue

Vienna Room

Boiserie from the Palais Paar in Vienna, Austria designed by Isidor Canevale, circa 1765 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

We continue our look at historic colour used in Georgian design today with the colour blue (you can read our previous colour posts here: red, yellow, and green).

Blue Room

Design for a panelled interior by Jules-Edmond-Charles Llachaise, 19th century 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The use of the colour blue harkens back all the way to ancient Egypt with the discovery of lapis lazuli, a brilliantly bright blu metamorphic rock.  Lapis lazuli was extremely scare and various ancient civilisations attempted to recreate this colour with other pigments.  Because of its scarcity, blue was always highly revered as a colour in art, often reserved for the principal figures in a painting or for the Virgin Mary in religious art.

Blue Salon

Boudoir from the Hôtel de Crillon by Pierre-Adrien Paris, circa 1770-80 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

When it comes to interiors, there are several famous Blue Rooms worth mentioning.  In England, Hardwick Hall’s Blue Bedroom is a decadent interior that a visitor in the 19th century described as ‘a most comfortable apartment, covered with rich tapestry and carved alabaster.’  The room features a four poster bed that belonged to Christian Cavendish, wife of the 2nd Earl of Devonshire, which is hung with sumptuous silk velvet damask with gold passementerie and embroidered with her arms and the date 1629.

Blue Chair

Giltwood armchair covered in 18th century blue silk damask 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Castle Howard’s Turquoise Room is equally impressive.  This drawing room was used by the 5th Earl of Carlisle to house his collection of paintings, including Old Master pictures as well as contemporary pictures.  The room features a fantastic suite of giltwood settees and chairs by John Linnell that are covered in a similar turquoise silk damask as the walls.  We recently had a pair of chairs that were closely related to the suite of Linnell furniture from this room–if only we had upholstered the pair in blue!


Jean Marc Nattier, Madame Marsollier and Her Daughter 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Crossing over to the other side of the pond, the Blue Room at the White House is one of the most famed interiors of the state rooms.  As part of James Hoban’s original plans for the white house, the Blue Room is oval in form and is used as the principal entertaining room for foreign dignitaries and special visitors.  Martin Van Buren is responsible for the blue colour scheme in the room from 1837 when he incorporated blue wallpaper and carpets.

We have put together a group of pieces from our collection that incorporate the colour blue.


One thought on “Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Blue

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

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