French Boys Clothes: Colors

Figure 1.--This French CDV was tinted by the studio. It is undated, but a 1867 award is mentioned on the back. It is a decidely poor example of colorization, but it does tell you that some boys wore black suits. We are guessing that it was a velvet suit. Notice how mother has chosen black lobg stockings ans shoes. Note that a red bow has been added to provide a flash of color. Colorization is not as reliable a painted portrair ar=t the time. Vut we believe that black and a bright red were proably what the boy here was wearing. The studip was Mathieu-Deroche, Paris.

Color is a difficult topic because of the black and white photograph used during the 19th and much of the 20th century. And our site uses the photographic record as a major source of information. Black and white photography does show black and white clothing as well as if the coloes were light or dark. But while you can colorize movies, grey scales require some guesses. We are collecting svailable information about color. A major source is of course French art. We notice George Feydeau as a 8-year old boy wearing a black velvet suit with color provided by a light blue bow (1870). A generation later the Faydouu children are dressed in a dark blue velvet Fauntleroy suit and a satin silver dress (1898). Renoir provides us many wonderful color images, although we are less sure about the color accuracy. In general, however, we believe the artistic depictions are a fairly accurate, dependable depiction of color. Another useful source of information is colorized photographs. Many studios offered to colorize the black and white portaits. Some of these colorized images are journey-men's work and very quickly and poorly done. Other are beautifully done. We believe that usually the colorist tried to replicate the colors actually worn, commonly noted by the photographer at the time the portrait was taken, but colors come in many hues and unlike the artist, the colorist could not capture the specific hues. There were also some issues. Trying to colorize clothes with patterns could be very tedious, in some cases impossible. And we have never seen detailed instructions addressing patterns. France had a very large commercial postcard industry. They produced large numbers of cards with children and many were colorized. In this case the colorists commonly paid no attention to actual colors. They seem more interested iun a colorful card than acurately de[octing color. Color information is also available in catalogs and advertisements. A French reader tells us, "In my time during the 1940s-50s, black color was never used for our garments, but dark navy, brown, grey were popular as well as white and also sky blue."


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Created: 6:03 PM 4/19/2017
Last updated: 6:04 PM 4/19/2017