"Gross! Look at those awful color combinations!" "What were they thinking?" I hear people say. My response, "They are awful in the most wonderful, beautiful Victorian way"
I often ask people who are new to Victoriana to look through "your Victorian eyes". That is to completely drop our pre-conceived contemporary idea of beautiful color combinations and see the world differently. A world with a mixture of natural and aniline (chemical) dyes that create a multitude of rich muted tones often played against strong vibrant ones. It is a world where patterns and textures are layered and prominent. Now, add changes in lighting. These colors and patterns would have one look in the daylight and take on something entirely different in the dim lighting of the evening. The soft moody glow of whale oil lamps, tallow and paraffin candles would later in the era give way to the soft brighter glow of kerosene, gas and electric light. The flicker of these artificial lights would play on the contrast of these colors as would the dim winter daylight here in the Upper Midwest.
|Parlour at Koepsell House as seen at Old World WI (c. 1880). Frederick and Sophia Koepsell are middle class German immigrant farmers living in Jackson, WI. (Frederick & Sophia Koepsell's images can be seen hanging in the large oval portrait.)|
|The parlour at Christmas of the Benson House as seen at Old World Wisconsin c. 1880. Wesley and Sophia Benson are middle class Yankees living in Fort Atkinson, WI.|