Seglora Church -Relocated From Western Sweden

*Disclaimer*-The pictures contained in this post are to illustrate the BEAUTY of yellow and green paint used in 18th century interiors.  We have no knowledge what so ever of the paint used in the rooms or furniture.  Emerald Green and Yellow colors are absolutely stunning colors to decorate a home around.     

The History Behind Emerald Green

Emerald Green, is the color of the year for 2013, yet what many people don’t know is the color “Emerald Green” at one time, killed people.

This brilliant blue-green color was extremely popular in the mid- 1800s, because emerald green paint was cheap to manufacture, and it had such a great depth of color.

In 1814 in Schweinfurt, Germany, two men named Russ and Sattler tried to improve on Scheele’s green, and made a paint made with copper arsenite. The result was a highly toxic pigment called “emerald green”. This paint was made with arsenic and verdigris and the bright green color became an instant hit within the design community.

The vibrant color was not only used as artist paint, but as well as household paint amongst other things. Many people at that time didn’t know the paint was made with poisonous arsonic, and who is to blame them when we don’t know ourselves what kind of unhealthy additives are contained in our foods.  As soon as the color was produced, it was picked up by many companies far and wide. The emerald green dye wasn’t only used for paint, but wallpaper and as liquid dyes.

In particular, in damp rooms where mold grew, the arsonic in the wallpaper paste would be turned into a toxic gas which would be deadly for anyone living in the room.  By 1830, wallpaper production had risen to 1 million rolls a year in the UK, and by 30 million in 1870. Tests later revealed that four out of five wallpapers contained arsenic.

Leopold Gmelin (1788-1853), a German chemist, suspected in 1815 that wallpaper could poison the atmosphere, that he made several efforts to warn the people in his day to strip their rooms of the paper, and advocated banning Scheele’s green. He noticed that the substance gave off a garlic-like odor when the paper was slightly damp. Experiments at the end of the 19th century proved that arsenic pigments in damp or rotting wallpaper were lethal.  If only they listened to Leopold Gmelin’s warnings!

The color “Emerald Green” became so popular and widely used in the cotton industry which used the chemical in pigments and dyes. It was also used by other industries such as glass manufactures as a de-colouriser, and in the production of leather tanning, soaps, lampshades, pharmaceuticals, agriculture for sheep dips, children’s toys, and candles.

Emerald green was also used to color cake decorations. In a few recorded instances, this dye was used to color icing, much like we do today.  In one case,  the industry making the dyes employed hundreds of young girls, who later died from chronic arsenic poisoning.  At a banquet held by the Irish Regiment in London in the 1850’s, sugar leaves that were dyed with the Emerald Green, and used as table decorations.  Many of the guests took the decorations home to give to their children to eat as a treat, whom later died.  Another dinner in 1860, a chef produced a spectacular green sugar dessert, used Scheele’s green and later, three of the diners later died.  If this is shocking, read this up on our modern day Aspartame. It has been proven that this popular sweetener used in coffee is toxic to your brain.  In fact, they say that when aspartame is added to hot waters, exceeding 86 degrees F. the Aspartame converts to Formaldehyde, and then to Formic Acid, which damages the brain….. yet this substance isn’t pulled off the market.

Emerald green was also called Schweinfurt green, Paris green, and Vienna green. The toxicity of emerald green was not initially recognized, until the recipe was published in 1822. Napoleon’s death in exile on St Helena was possibly a result by his exposure to the Emerald green wallpaper in his favorite room. The French painter Cezanne had an attraction for using paris green, and later it was known he suffered from severe diabetes. Later, the use of this pigment was abandoned when it became general knowledge that people who wore clothes dyed with this green tended to die early.

Here is the sad part- Even though they knew all the scientific evidence of its highly toxic nature, production of emerald green paint was not banned until the 1960’s. 

See: 10 Tips for Buying Used Furniture Online- Painted Furniture Online

The History Cinnabar Red

One of the most difficult to use and costly pigments on the market. Cinnabar red is obtained from a mineral (the principle ore of mercury). The Romans obtained it from the Almaden mines in Spain, which is still today an important locational source of mercury. In order for it to be used as a pigment, the mineral had to be purified, then synthesized and then ground to the correct fineness. If improperly handled, it could turn black.

Red’s hard. There are so many bad ones. They’re either too bordello or too raspberry nail polish. Or they’re so brown it’s like eating in a Southwestern theme restaurant, or so primary and overly frank that you want to ask, ‘Where do I put the presidential seal?’ I’m always looking for either a juicy pomegranate red, a Chinese lacquer red, or a really good oxblood. Because it’s such an important color, red needs nuance, subtlety, and depth, so in those rare instances that I break it out, I like to do it as a glaze, a lacquer, a fabric upholstery, or as red leather walls so there’s variation to the tone.”CELERIE KEMBLE

See: The Top Shades Of Red Paint By The Most Famous Designers- The Painted Furniture

The History Behind Lead White

The poisonous qualities of Lead White have been noted since Ancient Rome, when the color was made in Rhodes (Greece ) where workers would put shavings of thin lead over a bowl filled with vinegar. The acid on the thin metal would cause a chemical reaction and leave a white deposit of lead carbonate which was then powdered, flattened and left to dry in the sun. The small amount of lead white still manufactured today follows this same formula.

The History Behind Naples Yellow

The 18th and 19th century saw the discovery and manufacture of synthetic pigments and dyes, which quickly replaced the traditional yellows made from arsenic, cow urine, and other substances. Naples Yellow is one of the oldest synthetic pigments. Naples yellow was essential to the landscape tradition because it has a quality of appearing to recede, making it perfect for capturing the essence of the sun. The genuine pigment is toxic, and it is believed that Vincent van Gogh’s mental illness and suicide was a result of his frequent use of true Naples yellow.

Have scientists finally discovered why Van Gogh’s paintings are turning brown? Mail Online

Hope For Today

Today we have a wide variety of organic paints available within reach.  More than ever paint manufacturers are producing low VOC paints as people are looking at safer brands for their homes and health.  Olympic Premium and Benjamin Moore Aura have shown to have lower VOC levels than other tested paints and did a good job in this hiding test, according to Consumer Reports. VOC levels have been toughened because VOCs are linked to respiratory illnesses and memory impairment.

The top paints in the Consumer Report Ratings  had among the highest claimed VOC levels, including Behr Premium Plus Enamel low-luster and flat  and Benjamin Moore Regal semigloss.   They reveal that lowering the VOC levels can affect performance. “When you take out VOCs, you still need strong performance properties, but you have to find other ways to achieve them,” says Carl Minchew, product-development director  at Benjamin Moore. Still, some no- and low-VOC paints did well in performance revealed in the Consumer Report Ratings.  Posted in the Consumer Reports Magazine issue: March 2009

See: Green Dreams: Environmentally Friendly Restoration FurnitureThe Painted Furniture


This information below comes from

“PY41 is genuine Naples Yellow (Lead Antimonate), tubed paints come in two yellow versions, Light and Dark (sometimes available in a “red” pigment as well). Available from Vasari, Michael Harding and Robert Doak. Genuine Naples offer a smooth blending mild tinting yellow that works in more delicate situations, like portraiture. Here is a comparison of both Michael Harding genuine Naples Yellows along with others similar colors, including OH’s PBr24 imitation Naples Yellow Extra. The lower mixes show the colors tinted with white above, and black below.”