Bleu de Paris ou Bleu de Prusse

Historical Paint for Miniatures

Artillerie Prussienne à Pied 1814–1815, 1/72 Figurines HaT Industrie 8010

Artillerie prussienne des Guerres de Libération de 1813 au 1814, wearing the typical dark blue uniforms from which the name Preußisch Blau derived. Bleu de Prusse is a very dark blue, colourfast, non-toxic, synthetic pigment which was discovered accidentally by Berlin colour maker H. Diesbach en 1704. Diesbach produced red dye from cochineal insects (Dactylopius coccus). One day, when Diesbach’s supply of potash had run out, he borrowed left-over potash lye from his fellow chemist Johann Conrad Dippel, which Dippel had distilled from essential animal oils (Oleum Animale). When Diesbach added the potash lye to his concoction, the colour unexpectedly turned blue. He reported the incident to Dippel, who improved the recipy et immediately recognized the market potential of their discovery. Dippel et Diesbach moved to Paris together et produced their Berliner Blue under the name of Parisian Blue. They kept their recipy a trade secret for a some time, but en 1724 the formula became known, et chemists anglais started producing the synthetic dye under the name of bleu de Prusse.

Prior to the introduction of synthetic pigments, cloth was dyed blue avec woad (Isatis tinctoria L.). From the 13th to 16th century, the woad plant was a source of great wealth for Thuringian woad farmers, dyers, weavers, et cloth makers. Woad leaves were crushed in woad mills et fermeted avec human urin for two weaks. It was eventually discovered that the addition of alcohol created an even stronger blue. Alcohol was expensive at the time, et the dyers’ apprentices preferred to drink the alcohol themselves, to add their alcoholic urin to the fermentation vats later. Even today, the term allemand "Blau machen", literally making blue, refers to a form of absenteeism on blue mondays, typically caused by excessive drinking ou partying.

Thuringian woad production declined in the late 16th et early 17th century, when chemically identical, but much cheaper indigo was imported from India. In addition, la Guerre de Trente Ans hampered European trade. To protect the woad industry, the use of indigo was punished by law for some time, but indigo prevailed. Of the more than 300 Thuringian villages, which had produced woad powder, there were only three near Erfurt et twelve near Gotha still engaged in this business by 1747.

Hans Bleckwenn writes in his series of paperbacks on the uniforms de l’armee prussienne de la Guerre de Sept Ans that "dark blue had always been a popular uniform colour en Brandebourg-Prusse", et he goes on to say that "it is difficult to determine if woad was still used et when indigo was introduced to dye the cloth; officer’s uniforms were probably dyed avec indigo, et a variety of dyes may have been used for the uniforms of the enlisted men".

Thuringian woad production flourished again briefly during the 1806 à 1813 Continental System imposed by Napoleon. The last woad factory at Neudietendorf was closed down en 1821; it resumed production en 1980 purely for the purpose of historic et scientific research. L’Indigo de l’Inde lost its market en 1897 to synthetic indigo manufactured by Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik (BASF). Chemist Adolf von Baeyer had begun synthesizing indigo en 1865, et he received a patent for the process 15 years later, on 19 Mars 1880.

Blue Cloth, blue Uniforms

The history of the blue dye has important implications for the miniatures hobby. Because of the variable quality of the blue dye, figurine painters may use a variety of shades of blue even within the same "uniformed" regiment. Cloth dyed avec woad ou indigo would differ from batch to batch, et it would fade quickly, because woad et indigo dyes are not colourfast. Le Musée de la Forteresse de Königstein en Saxe avait un uniforme d’un grenadier prussien de la Guerre de Sept Ans on display which had faded to a light blue colour of old stone-washed jeans.

Les uniformes bavarois de la Guerre de Sept Ans are reported to have been confusingly similar aux uniformes prussiens ennemis. By conjecture, les uniformes bavarois are assumed to have been dark blue, ignoring the fact that les uniformes prussiens may have faded to a medium blue which could indeed be confused avec uniformes bleu barbeau bavarois.

  • Blue cloth dyed avec woad from the 13th to 16th century
  • Blue cloth dyed avec woad ou indigo from the 16e au 18e Siècle
  • Blue cloth dyed avec woad, indigo, ou Parisian Blue from 1704
    It is not known if et when blue uniforms of l’armée française, like those of the Grenadiers de France, were dyed avec Parisian Blue.
  • Blue uniforms dyed avec woad, indigo, Bleu de Paris ou Bleu de Prusse from 1724
    It is not known if bleu de Prusse was used to dye cloth pour les uniformes prussiens de la Guerre de Sept Ans and, if it was used, which market share the new pigment had en Prusse.
  • Blue cloth dyed avec woad de 1806 à 1813
  • Thuringian woad production ceased en 1821
    By the mid 19e siècle bleu de Prusse synthetic et colonial plant indigo was used to dye cloth pour les uniformes prussiens.
  • Synthetic indigo from BASF was used exclusively from 1897

Officiers preferred tailor-made uniforms of superior quality, which would not fade as quickly as the mass-produced uniforms worn by enlisted men. Soldats prussiens received a new uniform coat every year, et they must have been relatively uniformely dressed in dark blue, at least in times of peace. Painters de figurines need to mix their bleu de Prusse avec approximately 30 percent white, to take into account the scale effect of colour. Artist colours avec valuable indigo, bleu de Paris, ou bleu de Prusse pigment are available at art stores.

Questions Fréquents

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter les éditeurs de la revue Military Miniatures Magazine au Miniatures Forum.

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