The name for a soft hue of blue-green commonly known as the patina that develops on copper, bronze and brass. The old French term vert-de-grece literally means the green of Greece.
In 18th century France in the area of Montpellier, verdigris was manufactured in cellars mainly by women, copper plates were stacked in clay pots filled with distilled wine, the verdigris would form and would be scraped off weekly. It was ground into pigments for paintings and other art objects. Interestingly verdigris use was known to cause nausea, poisoning and even death but the women who manufactured it remained to be perfectly healthy.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic verdigris coloured statues, but when she was first unveiled in 1886 to a crowd of over a million she was in fact brown in colour! Approximately 30 years of patination changed the copper she was made from to the blue-green finish that she is famous for today. In 1906 there was talk of trying to return her to her original colour, the idea was disliked by the public as they had embraced her chameleon like change therefore she was allowed to age gracefully as she continues to do to this day.
Verdigris moves between blue and green and all of the hues in between, it is a colour with history and grandeur, a colour that seems to sit delicately in most colour schemes, it doesn’t shout to be noticed but rather waits patiently to be seen, once your attention is drawn to its refined beauty it is mesmerising.
The ground pigments of verdigris were used by painters for hundreds of years, in paintings by the likes of Bernini and Botticelli, but these transformed over the years as the verdigris pigment was unstable and what may have looked a bright green when Bernini had brushed his last stroke would now appear as a dull brown shade. Just like the Statue of Liberty these masterpieces would age and morph from what was originally created, verdigris would be the beginning and the end but would never stay the same. The impermanence and ethereal quality of verdigris has an otherworldly beauty that can neither be fully explained or copied, existing only briefly in time.
HOW TO USE VERDIGRIS IN YOUR HOME -
Many paint companies have tried to replicate the mercurial properties of verdigris, shades can vary greatly from bright turquoise to cool grey-greens, as green sits in the centre of the colour wheel it can be paired with both warm and cool undertones. To find your ideal shade think of the energy you want to create in a specific room. For a bedroom to create a restful and relaxed ambience try Coat Paints Detox, a clean green with a blue undertone (vegan, certified B corp) For a fresh kitchen feel we like Edward Bulmer natural paint in Verdigris (vegan, organic and eco-friendly)
If you prefer to keep a more neutral backdrop, verdigris accessories bring a certain classicism to a room, think antique sculptures lining a wooden bookshelf in a study or a pair of verdigris vases on either side of a black marble mantel in a formal lounge.
Our next vintage collection Europeen Moderne coming this November includes many verdigris coloured pieces that have been carefully curated so that you can incorporate this palatial colour into your home.