Bitten By Witch Fever
Updated: Jun 9
In Germany, 1814, Wilhelm Sattler created an extremely toxic arsenic and verdigris compound pigment, Schweinfurt green! known also as Paris, Vienna, or emerald green.
These colours became an instant favourite amongst designers and manufacturers the world over, thanks to its versatility in creating enduring yellows, vivid greens, and brilliant blues.
Most insidiously, the arsenic-laced pigment made its way into intricately patterned, brightly coloured wallpapers and from there, they became increasingly in vogue and into the Victorian home.
As its use became widespread, commercial arsenic mines increased production to meet the near-insatiable demand. Not least of which was the UK’s largest mining plant DGC, whose owner was William Morris, originator of the British Arts and Crafts movement and arguably the finest wallpaper designer of his generation.
"Bitten by Witch Fever"... Morris’s own phrase to dismiss arsenic and wallpaper related public health concerns in 1885