Have you ever read about a Victorian dress, and wondered: What colour, exactly, is heliotrope? Did you ever read an Elizabethan novel and say: Did anyone really wear Puke? When Chaucer wrote: his eyen bright citrin, did you wonder about what colour is citrin?
Have you wondered when aniline dyes were invented, how indigo was used, or how black fabric was dyed? Perhaps you have wondered when the colour London Smoke was used, or when Eiffel red was invented.
Here is the book to tell you!
Elephant's Breath and London Smoke:
Historical Color Names, Definitions, and Uses
This book will tell you about colour in history, the names of colors, when they were used, how they were used, what they looked like, and where they came from. There are dye recipes, paint ingredients, poetic language and general commentary all in the words of period writers.
You will learn about mourning colours, the effects of artificial light on colour, advice on what colours to wear, the colours found in cosmetics and theatrical make-up, and the names of the colorus of horses. You can read about symbolism in colours, heraldic colours, and complaints about the names of colours.
Deb Salisbury, author of Elephant's Breath & London Smoke has perused fashion magazines, books of dye recipes, art books, painter's manuals, mineralogy guides, tomes on colour theory, metaphysical texts, poetry and fiction, but especially period dictionaries and encyclopedias. Any resource that might give a hint on what a colour looked like or how it may have been used was fair game, from Chaucer to Chemistry Journals.
Most of the entries were printed in English, American, Canadian and Australian publications from around 1380 to 1922. Because French was the language of fashion, many of the English terms are French words. She has attempted to explain those colours, too.
If you are curious about colour, you will want this book!