Period Uses Of Color

98. If our furniture is white and gold, it is clearly evident that the colorings of a room should be soft and harmonious. If we adopt the dark teakwood of India or the deep brown of Flanders, our color scheme again changes. The preponderance of white in Colonial rooms was due to architectural conditions. White illuminates; and in the days when our ceilings were no higher than seven and a half feet, and our windows were small, the room needed an artificial light, and white supplied this.


99. In furnishing an Empire room, the decorators have, little by little, led themselves to believe that what is known as Empire green is a distinct shade of green. On the contrary, green was used in the period of the Empire simply because it was in pleasing contrast with the mahogany and brass so much used. If the mahogany is dark, a dark green is desirable; if light, a light green.

100. Egyptian decoration was full of gold and brilliant coloring, and a popular form of combination was the triad form:

Black, yellow and red.

Red, blue and white.

Dark blue, light blue and white.

Cream color, blue and black.

Dark red, medium yellow and blue.

101. The Greek decorators, who painted in fresco, used white, red, blue, yellow and black. Natural marbles were much used in green and red and alabaster, and bronze, gold and silver.

We see the flat colors of the Greek, Etruscan and Pompeiian age and we imagine they are typical of the period, but we must consider that the examples of that period which we now possess are faded and emasculated, and that the more authentic the example, the more aged it is, and hence the more weakened in color character.

The Greeks loved color, and their embroideries were in gold and blue and Tyrian purple.

Roman coloring was but a continuance of the Greek, characterized by dark and rich backgrounds, which were frequently black, red or deep yellow and dark blue, on which figures and landscapes, or animals, or groups from still life, were executed in bright colorings of powerful contrasts. Black and white were used, and later, when the Byzantine artists and craftsmen found their way to Western Italy, they spread this love of bold coloring, so that at the dawn of the Renaissance we find a return to the Greek and Roman coloring, which, however, was modified in England, Germany and Flanders, according to temperamental conditions.

102. We find, for instance, some forms of Florentine decoration, full of yellow, red-yellow, blue-greens and light slate blues. Botticelli used whites, creams, reds and citrine, with umber tones heightened by gold, and if we examine carefully the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Italian brocades which are preserved in the museums, we discover a great preponderance of yellow-green as an ornament on dark violet, or light olive green on dark blue, or dull orange on crimson brown.

In some of the richest early Italian fabrics we find:

Purple and sage-green ornaments on indigo ground; outlines in gold.

Dull crimson, pale blue and chrome yellow ornaments on dark gray ground.

Pale yellow-green ornaments on deep amber ground.

Dark blue-green and light greenish-yellow ornaments on deep crimson ground.

Pale greenish-blue ornaments on dark gray-blue ground, with white and gold picked out in small quantities.

Emerald green and dull orange ornaments on dark gray-green ground outlined in gold.

103. The French Renaissance takes inspiration from the Roman and Greek.

The Louis XIV is a development of the Renaissance, with a conspicuous use of gold.

106. On the other hand, floral decorations in the home are the balance needed to the mind that craves them during the Winter period when there is a lack of color without.


image Compare perpendicular and horizontal lines: The angles

and curves which enclose them change their relative equality.