PALETTE OF HISTORIC PAINTS

by PATRICK BATY

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as "drab colo "dead salmon" have or

tnee.ve'perhaps,tnantne?3.9^r9vruri3"ul.rr,,,.|,l.l the eye, perliaps, thantl sive paint finishes of tl
they are, however, beir

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--gg* ffig" ffi 5gI may result if the Trust i(oil.{er-R.'....-,*.*F:1ocrcquc:;!aUIc:,il,g]:,]I.,

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essentialtorefertothedetailedallsuperiorwork''.Thiswas achieved by a process known as and heloful explanation printed on the'r.u..i. of the'leaflet 1-A trial for the repainting of Adarn's drawing-roorn ceiling "flatting", which, as we.ll as,infrorn Lansdowne llouse, now in the Philadelphia Museurn of Art volvtng an extra operatlon that supplied with the paints. ' 'The sort of effect achieved added to the cost of the job, was -l unsuitable for vulnerable areas and exterior uping a so--called "Palladian" colour on t .!y surfaces. tlie doois and architraves together with- one I ,, : ., i. ] Distemper was a less expensive matt based on untinted limewash"on the ceilins, I LI I finish widely used on plaster walls and ceiland rhen having the walls painted in a coJ- I I I | inss. It was made with whiting' or ground n'r inqnired by"that of sun-bleached sugar | I I ings... It.was made,with,whiting, Sround our inspired hw"that .,f ",lrr'-trleached srrerar | urlarK, uuullu,wrLrr 4 Srus )rzL,rr:o".,t'Y'l' chalk, bound wltn a glue slze maoe Irom bass. is no doubt attractive in a room of.the bags, Isnodoubtattractlvelnaroomollne -iEizoos.NonetheIess,ifthissortofthingffianimalbones,hornsorskin,andtintedwith j. :r, | advantases 6f cheapness, the wide range of ru*fij;JJgr."lJ;i,l:',',:,f;:'*'1i'1":"il:Ai *Jil1'i,f,:;'gh'.*t i.:tg;,:'l:i;tiJ* l, , ,,, ,+1, '|

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to the w"ork carried out in the drawing work Carried

roOm ''i''ri:{s1!iiir*':""- ' room IEt from Lansdowne House (Fig l), where the Philadelphia Museum of Ariwii advised by T l
Dr lan Eristow and Morgan Phillips. fhir is I.,or to Lygg.it that.appealing decorative effecrs willi"ot be achieved usin[
such combinations of colours. Moreover, thE

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tints achfevable in it. the ease with whiih iL could be made and^applied, and ihe speed oI its, application. Being Ioosely bound, it of lts- applrca.tron' 5elng loosery ]founo, ll could be. washedoll lor renewal, but lt was not particu'larly durable. used for tinting both - . Th. pigments some being considerabll

lore,

expensive

| original colour scheme may not n^ecessarily be ?he most attractive. but'it is often more

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importantinsigni{icant1Bth-centurybuild-|@*"l|r-lused.

bu-red earths, tended to be more frequently

injs,wherethEdecoratio,1and,th6archi-ffil|-l^.l1.:.*|:.jli:'1^y11l..1.'^."9l'*:
^pp..i'o.".*t'atauste.eand'td1oi'rl,esst6T-^._--,=probI9m:1:::i1:T9yi,h'T^1ry^:l|: w-ith its stone-like wall surface and 2-sarnples of "Comrrron Colours": (ctock- hore expensive pigments. These common
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"y.r, colo.irtomatch; butthateffectisexactly zt,isefrimtop left) stone, white, pearl, colours,-whichinclud.edwhite,stone.(inits chocolate, Laklwainscot, stoneo lead various forms), pearl, lead, crearr\ wainscot what the original designer was trying to

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Choice ofpaints

Where noiriginit schente suruiues, knouledge of the paints auailable in the past, and th. rul." that guided their use, utill help to ensure infornted decisions.

for historic interiors is a subjectfraught utith controaersJ,

3-This recently restored and redecorated hallway in a house of about 1720 shows the stone colour favoured for such roorns in the early lBth century. By courtesy ofPelharn Galleries
formed the basis of most decorative schemes for many

or oak, and chocolate (Fig
vears.

21.

' In the main, the brighter and more expensive colours tended io be more fugitive ind liable to discoloration, especially in an
oil medium. Some pigments would react adversely with otheri, or be affected by the
atmosphere or the alkalinity of plaster walls.

Severai colours could be achieved only in one or other of the two mediums, so that there was no universal use of colour. Equallv. aithoueh possible in a paint, a paiticuiar colour"would not necesiarily be -available in a fabric, or vice versa. A good, clear blue, for example, was for many years possible only in distemper, and would not have been used on woodwork. Bright yelIows, too, presented a problem -in an oil paint u.ntilihe lB20s, and even then were
expenslve. -

used and the nature of the area being oainted. There is a tendencv to ienore this

In the past there was a definite hierarchy of colour, rtlating to the cost of the pigme.nts

ind, in so doing, use colours ihat tiight h^rre been found in the public rooms of the srandest houses in the back bedrooms of
more humble terraces.

the earlv days was the chair rail planted on the plasfer #alh. The austerity ofihe colours of the Baroque and Palladian periods are somehow confused with the neo-Classical "cheese cakes and raspberry tarts", which wrote "Iames Peacock of the about in 1785. symbolic purpose of Ignorance the wboden cornice in a wainscotted room leads to it beins painted in with the ceiling, instead of witli ihe wall. This makes little sense, represenlinS, as it does, the entablature of an implied architectural order. with the main rnail area susgesting the column, and the dado the pedestal. Combined with the pickins out of the stiles and rails oIthe vrall'paneli. the result is a complete breakine r;p of ihe architecturai rinity of the orlgrnaI. "An analogy with.the playing of early 4-staircaseo No. I Greek Streetr Wl. Dr Bristow prepared the colour schetne muslc on authentlc lnstruments may De Ian drawn. Although that argument is by no There is also enormous confusion about means resolved,"our understanding has bcen the oast itself. The inclination is to treat the increased bv the debate. Is it time, perhaps, wh6le of the period from 1774 to 1830 as lor the oueition of historic colour to be d-isrepresenting one architectural style. purely cussed more widely, instead of relying on because the reigning monarchs shared the our vague^preconceptions and notions of same name. During this time, the simple sood taste/ " Photoqraplts: l, Dr lan Bristow: 2, lhe auwainscotted parlour gave way to the spa-^ cious drawing room. whose only vestige of thor/ Papels and Paint Ltd: 3.4. Jutian LYieman'