Oct 16, 2009

Color schemes in 19th C French textiles, part 7

Although gray is used in chic modern interiors, it is also often associated with industrial or drab paint schemes.  But, not so in 19th century France!  The French decorators and textile designers of that era, in their bold creative ways, used gray as both a lovely background color and as a prominent foreground color, often in various unusual color combinations. Gray was widely used in solid backgrounds and is found in many different shades and tones.
Let's start with the simplest combination .... monochromatic prints with gray foreground motifs on a plain white or near-white background. Below are two 19th century examples - the first uses bouquets of meticulously-drawn lilacs as the central theme and the second uses dreamy neo-classical motifs with songbirds.

Gray foreground motifs were also used with various other background colors during the 19th century. Here we see pale pink, pale pink and white, sapphire blue and deep red.  The pale pink fabric features a bird, a bird's nest and bouquets of daisies and trailing vines. The next, on a palest pink and white background is printed a large-scale, very high quality floral with peonies and poppies. The deep blue fabric has baskets of roses and other flowers as well as garlands and wheat-heads. The red background piece has three adorable cherubs as the central motif along with trellis, acanthus and trailing vines.  Notice that two cherubs are playing instruments while the third is holding his ears!

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