What is Scheele’s green?
As everyone knows, green is not a primary colour and was not available as a colour for home interior prior to the 1700s. It was during this period when copper was heavily mined, that copper arsenite (a bi-product of the mining process) was discovered.
The vibrant yellow-green pigment derivative for green was concocted by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1775 by combining sodium carbonate, arsenious oxide and copper sulphate. It was cheap to produce and really caught on, becoming all the rage in the Victorian interior. It became known as Scheele’s green, and was immensely popular as a colour for home interior. Whole houses turned green – dyes, drapes, paints, wallpaper, hosiery hats and toys were all coloured with copper arsenite as the new trendy colour washed the land.
Why was Scheele’s green toxic?
Here’s the unlucky part. People’s home interiors were literally killing them as they were inhaling arsenic from the green pigment. It is rumoured that Napoleon died of arsenic poisoning whilst exiled on St Helena – his rooms were papered and painted with the pigment. In fact a sample of hair from Napoleon’s head, tested in 2008, showed he had 100 times more arsenic in his bloodstream than we do today.
William Morris and Scheele’s green
The colour today
Luckily we can now enjoy green as a home interior colour without the health risk. Farrow and Ball offer it as a product and it can be mixed as a Hex colour #478800 or RGB references 71, 136, 0. We used it in the pantry in our South Coast project together with the stunning hand-painted wallpaper is by Allyson McDermott that replicates William Morris’ pomegranate wallpaper.
If you’d like to discuss our approach to design and our passion for how brilliantly designed furniture can improve your experience of living in a period house, please email email@example.com or call 01934 745270