Colour Services

Nov 14th, 2009 | | Colour Services | Paint Technical | 2 Comments

Geffrye Museum Update


A very brief post this time as I am currently working on a large number of projects. I hope to write some of these up in the future.

Having carried out the analysis of the exterior paint at the Geffrye Museum earlier (see blog post 18th April 2009) I was keen to see how my report had been acted on. An occasion arose on Friday, when I was back at the Museum, this time as a speaker at the Traditional Paint Forum conference – From “Gilding the Lily” to “Any Old Iron”: Protecting and Decorating Metal with Traditional Paints.*

The overall impression of the new livery is one of restraint – so much so that many visitors will not immediately notice a difference. Indeed, the changes are very subtle and one might be tempted to ask “Why the fuss?”

Previously the front doors of the fourteen former almshouses and the central chapel were painted in a variant of Brunswick Green (a colour first introduced in the late 1820s). The window and door surrounds; cills; modillion cornice and chapel quoins were painted white. The downpipes and balustrades to the front steps were painted black.

Geffrye Museum – Old Livery

The New Livery

And now? Well, a dark green has been retained for the doors; the white has been “broken” and grey has replaced the black on the ironwork. Hardly a big difference. The contrasts have been reduced and a softer appearance given to the buildings. All the colours are based on those uncovered during the investigation of the painted surfaces and, at the same time, reflect those in general use on exteriors during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A longer account of the use of external colour can be found here.

For some thoughts on front doors see blog post 6th July 2009.

*Incidentally an earlier paper based on my talk on the colour of architectural ironwork can be seen here.

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Patrick Baty

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Comments (2)

The Virtual Victorian » 14. Nov, 2009

Thank you for this… I've been meaning to visit the Geffrye Museum for ages. I shall inspect the new colours in person!

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