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"Research into French Blue(s)" Topic

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jeffreyw331 Aug 2015 2:31 a.m. PST

Interesting also to see the variances between "General stuff" and "enlisted stuff." Matches existing Russian examples.


Green Tiger31 Aug 2015 3:07 a.m. PST

Thanks, very interesting!

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2015 4:40 a.m. PST

I don't want to see sky blue on your French habit-vestes any more. Highlight with gray if you must.

"Of importance to this study, cloth once dyed with Indigo, does not fade [darken or lighten] it is a fixed colour. Bar 200yrs of dirt accumulation, the colour of the cloth in 2015 is the same as when made in 1815."

rmaker31 Aug 2015 5:38 a.m. PST

Sorry, but indigo-dyed cloth DOES fade. It also leaches when it gets wet. Not sure where this guy got his information but it's wrong. Of course, he's trying to sell his product …

The official samples he cites have been protected from light and moisture for 200+ years. Uniforms actually issued and worn show quite different results.

Esquire Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2015 5:54 a.m. PST

The muddy waters just got murky. That said, I do regret that I painted a legere regt in a sky blue based upon Osprey. I don't think that is accurate but I find a way to sleep at night. I'm not a chemist, but I think UV light will fade any cloth. Efforts today can minimize such things, but the uniforms would have faded but dark blue does not become sky blue. All that said, for wargaming figues I say it is about accuracy and visual appeal. Dark coated figures with black belts just don't have much appeal. You have to find some way to add depth or distinction. So with French and Prussian I do like a dark blue with some medium accents; with Prussians painted dark blue and shaded in black and it was a waste of effort. No distinction visible from even two feet let alone 6 to 10. Now who will repaint that legere regt for me?

jeffreyw331 Aug 2015 6:24 a.m. PST

Further clarification from the author about weathering: A lot of dis-inofrmation exists on French Napoleonic cloth and dyes. Indigo dye remains stable. it is a fixed dye. Dirt accumulation is the main factor in the change of colour. When dealing with none fixed dyes the colour does change. Colours appear a lot darker in museums due to low light levels. John Chisholm Indigo dye is fast. Michael Peterson given a mill would be producing 1,000's of meters of cloth in indigo blue that had to match the governments specified shade, the variation in colour would be subtle. Remember the dyers were professionals, and knew how to dye cloth. Difference in colour is more a re-enactorism when different cloth sources are used to equip each member as a unique person rather than equipping 20,000 men at any one time. The French war ministry laid down clear regulations on cloth colour and cloth quality. This was introduced 23 September 1807. Each mill/cloth supplier had to provide to the war ministry a length of cloth 1 aunes [119c,] wide by 19 aunes [20meters] for the cloth quality to be checked and quality of dyed colour to be checked over the entire length of the fabric, before the war ministry would order the cloth. The war ministry had a list of approved contractors and set prices for cloth type and colour. This was adhered to throughout the empire. Checking cloth quality was the role of Inspectors of Review and War Commissioners. 28 September 1811 a manufacture was 'disciplined' for trying to sell to the army poor quality cloth with a bad dye, 12 November 1811, the same occurred to a different suppluier. For example l'entrepeneur Bischwiller supplied 44,000 meters of biege cloth, 38,000 meters of bleu imperiale cloth, 20,000 meters of scarlet cloth. Each length of cloth was 19 aunes, and each length had been checked by a War Commissioner as meeting government standards. The War commissioner had to check the dye colour and also count the number of ends [threads] to make sure the cloth was of the required standard. Yes colour could vary between batches of dye and mills, but overall the colour of cloth was very well regulated. With blue cloth and scarlet, the colours dyed in say 1811 are the same in 2015 less dirt. Quality of finish of the cloth, and the selection of wool fibres, and the way in which the cloth was dyed, affects colour. So a lot of factors to consider. But the shade of blue an item is now is pretty much the colour it was when new.

matthewgreen31 Aug 2015 6:52 a.m. PST

That's the theory, but I wonder how the exigencies of shortages urgent demands to replace losses, mixed in with a bit of corruption actually played out. I believe that there were contemporary sources that said standards had slipped in the later empire on the quality of both blue and red.
Having said which, I find this research very interesting and enlightening, it will certainly affect the way I present my miniatures. And since I had planned to produce some Carabineers it is particulary pertinent! The evidence on blue de ciel and blue celeste is particularly important.

Zargon31 Aug 2015 9:32 a.m. PST

Yes fascinating and enlightening thanks jeffwefree:)

rmaker31 Aug 2015 4:37 p.m. PST

He can keep repeating his opinion that indigo is a fast dye, but I've talked to a fair number of experienced textile artists (who do their own dying) and they all agree that it is not. There are fixing compounds that will stabilize indigo, but they are all of 20th Century (possible late 19th) origin and would not have been available in the Napoleonic Era.

I'm sure that the fabric the manufacturer provides uses these stabilizers, and he fails to understand that they were not around in 1815.

By the way, I'm not arguing for sky blue French uniforms. The fading of indigo-dyed fabric leads to more of a dark slate blue gray, though usually the garment would not last long enough for that state to occur.

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2015 7:22 a.m. PST

All very interesting. I pulled out my two Rousselot plates on French Carabiners 1810-1815, Plates Numbered 2 and 30. Both of mine are the 1978 reprints of the 1943 1st Editions. The color seems to match the Bleu de Ciel, at least as it appears from the link above on my computer monitor. In the text, M. Rousselot refers to it as bleu ciel. I have no idea how the shade looks in the book of Rousselot plates published a few years back.

That brings us to the fact that when we see illustrations published as prints or in books, we do not know if we are seeing the color painted by the artist. Rousselot published his prints himself to my understanding. Presumably he would have had more control over the finished product than an artist for a book publisher, let's say.


von Winterfeldt01 Sep 2015 11:30 a.m. PST

wearing my uniform in all weather conditions in re – enactments, including standing at the camp fire – getting a lot of smoke – seeminly darkened the dark blue, not to speak about the red and white.

after about 2 years I took it to a chemical cleaner, how bright the colours became after the uniform was clean.

very interesting information jeffreyw3

jeffreyw301 Sep 2015 12:53 p.m. PST

Thanks von Winterfeldt!

Lord Hill01 Sep 2015 1:09 p.m. PST

Very interesting jeffrey, many thanks

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