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Alphabe Thursday J is for Owen Jones

January 23, 2014

The Crystal Palace was built in London to house the Great Exhibition of 1851; it was the pinnacle of the many achievements of Victorian England. It was designed by Joseph Paxton on the principle of a giant conservatory; with its stark geometric forms and the use of prefabricated units of iron and glass it was far ahead of its time.  

Although, the Great Exhibition was primarily a commercial project, for the nations of the world to promote their products and crafts, it was also had a social and artistic aim. Prince Albert wished to champion peace and tolerance between the nations and also draw attention to the arts and the history of civilisation worldwide.

Owen Jones, the Welsh interior designer (the colour king) was among the distinguished figures who made this happen.

In the late 18th century London architecturally was dull and grey. I understand that the interiors of churches once brightly painted had been covered with whitewash by the protestant reformers.

Owen Jones wanted to instill ‘polychromy to the the puritan English visitors to the Palace. He said that although English painters had become know as ‘colourists’, England was far behind ‘in the employment and appreciation of colour’ while decorating the inside and out of our homes and public buildings. People, he said, were ‘disinherited of the spectrum, men were reluctant to give up their idea of the white marble of the Parthenon and the simplicity of form. They would not consider that while the statues and architecture had faded the Greeks and Romans had decorated them with the primary colours; blue, red and yellow.   

Owen Jones eager to bring bright colours from the far east; burnished by the sunshine; shades that possessed a theatrical liveliness and presented  intricate new patterns and harmonies of colour.  

Inspired by the ancients Owen Jones’ idea were based on the theories of the English colour maker George Field. He insisted that the three colours ‘distributed in a specific ratio; three parts yellow, five parts red and eight parts blue’ would ensure the ideal of harmonious colouring. Other architects were not convinced; however Jones got his way. Unfortunately, due to limited resources the industrial paints did not contain the bright pigments that artist were used to; so the Palace was painted with dirty off-yellow, pale blue and brownish red.

alphabet thursday

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2014 1:33 pm

    I could not imagine a world without color, even in architecture and design. Primary colors make me happy, so much so that on occasion I will buy a bag of M&Ms to place in a glass jar just to enjoy the colors. 🙂

  2. January 23, 2014 3:11 pm

    Intriquing post and photo ~ fascinating ~ carol, xxx

  3. January 23, 2014 8:28 pm

    I love to surround myself with color – it adds so much to life…

  4. January 23, 2014 11:08 pm

    I’d never heard of the Crystal Palace before. So cool.

  5. Karen S. permalink
    January 24, 2014 12:59 am

    This is wonderful, and so interesting too. Color me happy with colors!

  6. January 24, 2014 2:54 am

    I love walking around greenhouses and conservatories. It must have been something to see, for all those people back in the 19th century! {:-D

  7. January 27, 2014 5:14 pm

    I am a big fan of rich, warm color!


  8. February 9, 2014 1:43 am

    Owen Jones had the right idea… Buildings need to be all jazzed up in color!

    Thanks for linking to the letter “J”.


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