Ruby Mountain Color Notes: Paris Green/Emerald Green

Paris Green is a beautiful color with a very sad and deadly history. First created in 1814 by two chemists who were trying to create an improved Scheele's Green, Paris Green was created with the hope that it would be longer lasting and more stable than Scheele's Green.  No one knows just how many people were killed with this bright green poison because it was used in so many different every day items. It was used in the manufacturing of clothing, wallpaper, insecticides, glass, toys, candles and food dye, among other things. Made by combining copper acetate and arsnic trioxide, this posionious compound was used to dye clothing and wallpaper, and even to color confections and cakes.  It was heavily sprayed in Italy during 1944 ad 1945 to control Malaria. Farmers used it on their crops to control insects. Paris used it in their sewers to kill rats. Although the recipe was published in 1822 (and thus making it's toxicity obvious) it wasn't until the end of the 1800s that Paris Green began to be recognized as a dangerous poision. When Paris Green or Emerald Green was used in wallpaper and the wallpaper got damp, would flake off or had midlew, it would release posionous arsnic gas into the room. When Paris Green was used to dye clothes, the arnsic poisoned thier bodies. Once people began to notice that those wearing Paris Green clothing would tend to die early, the color was abandoned. By that time though it had become a favorite green of many artists, including Cezanne, Van Gogh, Turner, Monet, Renoir, and others. By the late 1870s synethetic greens became more widespread and the toxic Paris Green fell out of favor.  Even with the knowledge that Paris Green was extremly toxic, production of this paint was not banned until the 1960s. Thankfully, today we have modern synthetic greens (like the Paris Green in my shop) that are non-toxic. We are lucky to live in modern times where we can easily choose non-toxic colors for our artwork and keep ourselves, our familes, our patrons and our planet safe from dangerous poison.