Sep 4, 2009

Color schemes in 19th C French textiles, part 2

A longtime favorite fabric color used in many 18th and 19th century French homes - one that many Americans have not yet come to fully appreciate - is the black background.
The French designers understood that when a printed fabric with a black background is hung, the background seems to recede and disappear, leaving the beautiful floral foregound motif appearing as if it is suspended in air! Whole rooms were decorated with floral fabrics with a black background. The French textile designers considered black to be a transparent color or a non-color.

The black backgrounds were popularly called "chimney sweep" and varied in tonal shadings as diverse as blue-black to brown-black to a bronze-black. These deep-toned fabrics can work well in many interiors and can harmonize easily with mid-tone fabrics. Below are several examples of black background 19th century French fabrics: