Saturday, 21 September 2013

Green is unlucky! Go slow on green!

Examples taken from one of my books!
Having collected old French fabrics for thirty years or so, I was surprised to discover how few green patterns and plain fabrics were in my collections, although I have nothing against green as a decorating colour! When I asked why this was so, I was told that French women did not like the colour green and thought it was unlucky. I put this down to the fact that dyeing cloth green was usually a problem as the dyes were very fugitive and green things became dowdy and mousey with light and sun and I must agree that faded green tapestries are very drab and uninspiring, however fine the weaving and decoration. It was while watching a recent TV programme about the dangers inherent in Victorian decorating, which was a matter of taste, fashion and expenditure, that I realised there was yet another hidden danger in green.  Scheele's Green as it was known, was used in wallpapers and paints, in cloths and clothes to give the brilliant shades of emerald and all the time it was a very dangerous and invisible killer, producing alarming symptoms and invalidism and death.   England was one of the last countries to ban the use of arsenic in paint and it went on for a very long time in the last century.   I do remember reading about the American Ambassadress, Clare Luce, who found out that her repeated illnesses in one Italian palace were eventually traceable to the use of arsenic on the walls, and no doubt her health was severely damaged. This was a sad and bad case of suffering for beauty.


  1. Well I didn't know that about historic green paint and wallpaper - thank you for sharing. Maybe that is why green is considered to be unlucky? Must look it up!

  2. Very interesting! I would love to know the dates this dying technique was used. I just published a post on the Empress Eugénie's bed and the reweaving of its curtains which were discovered to be emerald green. They were supposed to have been finished with new chemical dyes however.