ColorTherapy: Boucher at the Frick

ColorTherapy: Boucher at the Frick

Maxwell Ryan
Sep 19, 2007

Name: Whispering Hills VM114 (more below)
Brand: Ralph Lauren

There's a shade of green I've hated since infancy that I now call "church basement green," and which was also the color of the basement floor in the suburban rambler I was raised in. But I'm an adult now and love to travel, so imagine my surprise at discovering how pervasively this color is used in French boiserie. It's called celadon, or sea foam, and you see it all over France...

The Boucher Room and the Frick here in New York has as its base color this same green. Francois Boucher created the painting cycle "The Arts and Sciences" that adorn its walls for Madame de Pompadour ca. 1760, which places its decor in the Louis XV/Rococo period. Compared to the heavy Baroque style of Louis XIV, Rococo interiors were much softer, more feminine and sensual. Mrs. Frick originally had these panels installed in her second floor sitting room, but now you may see them downstairs next to the dining room and the Fragonard Room, both appointed styles.

I've always thought sea foam green was dirty and depressing, but lately have seen it through different eyes, especially in this example. Here the wall color has a slightly reserved quality, which stands in contrast to the whimsical narrative of "les enfants de Boucher"-children playing adult rolls of Comedy and Tragedy, &c. There's a pale sage color that I'm often called upon to use, which leaves me feeling listless. The color of the palette used in the decor of the Boucher Room is much fuller and livelier than that-it's rich, graceful and serene.

Possible color matches: Ralph Lauren Whispering Hills VM114, In The Meadow VM109, Emperor VM126, Carson Blue TH69.

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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