Monday, August 11, 2014
Those Luxurious Greens
Look at any book on elegant French interiors, and you'll likely find a number of rooms where the color green dominates. Not any old green, mind you, but sumptuous shades like bottle green, forest green, and emerald. These rich greens typically aren't introduced into a room through anything as mundane as wall paint. Instead, they appear in the guise of luxurious fabrics, such as velvet, silk, and damask. And I can't forget to mention lamp shades. In handsome French homes, many a lamp is adorned with a shade made of splendid green silk. It's enough to make you pea green with envy, no?
I most associate Hubert de Givenchy with these sophisticated shades of green. Peruse the various rooms of his Paris hôtel particulier, and you'll see that M. de Givenchy seems drawn to green velvets as well as green silk lamp shades. And Henri Samuel and Alberto Pinto, those late-yet-still-lauded French interior designers, often used green in their design work, namely emerald velvet.
So what is the attraction to these dignified shades of green? Well, taken at face value, they can be quite attractive. But I also suspect that deep-bodied greens, especially in the form of velvets and silks, are often chosen because they recall lavish nineteenth-century decor, which remains an exemplar of elegance still today. I have included an image of an early 1860s watercolor, Living Room in Second Empire Style, which depicts a well-appointed room that is awash in green fabrics. It really doesn't look much different from some of the recently taken photos featured below, a testament to the classic good looks of those luxurious greens.
Image #1 and #2 from The Givenchy Style; #3 and #4 from The Finest Houses of Paris; #5 and #6 from The Best of House & Garden; #7 from Table Settings by Alberto Pinto; #8-#13 from The Grand Book of French Style; #14 and #17 from Private Paris; #15 and #16 from Parisian Interiors; #18 from An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration by Mario Praz.