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Author Topic: Renaissance Colours  (Read 634 times)

Offline Paul Richardson

  • scientist
  • Posts: 328
Renaissance Colours
« on: May 21, 2018, 12:07:37 PM »
May I ask a question about the colours of clothes during the Renaissance period. This is just out of interest - and I hasten to add that I'm not meaning to criticise anyone's work  in painting figures of the period, much of which I find inspiring and I wish I could match.

I had reached this point in my life under the impression that until modern dyes were invented, the only really bright coloured cloth available was either red or blue. I had thought that because red cloth was cheaper than blue, this led to many regiments in the ECW being clothed in red jackets, people raising units wanting them in bright uniforms, which in turn led to the New Model Army and eventually the English army after the Restoration being uniformed in red. I had therefore assumed that all other coloured cloth would have been in muted colours. Is any of this true? It's just that I see Renaissance figures (landsknechts have brought this to mind, perhaps because there are quite a few new ranges coming out) painted in all sorts of attractive bright colours, and I wonder whether this is historically accurate or not. 

I'd be interested to know as well whether bright colours other than red and blue might have been available to artists - so could artists have painted figures wearing brighter clothes than were available in real life?

Any thoughts would be very interesting. As I said, this is really just for my education.

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 01:29:55 PM by Paul Richardson »

Offline Mindenbrush

  • Supporting Adventurer
  • mad scientist
  • *
  • Posts: 842
Re: Renaissance Colours
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2018, 02:22:18 PM »
I did some research prior to painting my SAGA Irish and KPW Settlers and you will be surprised at the number of colours that can be achieved through the use of vegetable, nuts and unusual bi-products
Wargamers do it on a table.
YNWA - It is not a badge, it is a family crest

Offline jon_1066

  • scientist
  • Posts: 396
Re: Renaissance Colours
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2018, 02:29:49 PM »
... unusual bi-products


Interesting question.  I particularly like the idea of artists jazzing up their paintings - kind of like the airbrushing of celebrity cellulite.

Offline fastolfrus

  • galactic brain
  • Posts: 4844
Re: Renaissance Colours
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 03:10:52 PM »
Onion skins when boiled will dye cloth a fairly good yellow. The intensity/shade depend on how long you boil for and how many onion skins, I think a pound (weight) of onion skins are needed to do a single garment. Yellow produced can vary up to a caramel colour.
There are quite a few plants will produce browns and greens, not vivid colours but it adds to your selection.
Partly depends on where you come from (unless you import your cloth).
Some countries had sumptuary laws, linking clothing styles (and colours) to status.
Artist pigments of the time are not directly related to cloth dyes. Most pigments are ground/pulverised minerals etc.
Gary, Glynis, and Alasdair (there are three of us, but we are too mean to have more than one login)

Offline AdamPHayes

  • scientist
  • Posts: 282
    • Wargame Warrior
Re: Renaissance Colours
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 11:20:48 PM »
The biggest difference would have been how fast the vegetable dyes were. Exposed to sun and rain on campaign many of them would quickly discolour or fade.