It’s all Red – a 1770’s mayors office

November 7, 2010

The mayor of Schiedam, a city near Rotterdam, wanted something stylish, something he could show off with. The fact that the townhall he resided in dated from the early middle ages wasn’t enough. His town was flourishing, a result of his good management of course. He wanted to show that the books weren’t exactly in the, ehh, red.

The archival researcher found a record that his office room, beautifully decorated in the rococo style, was covered with a red woven textile. And of course we all knew exactly what that looked like. Yes we did.

The town was flourishing so much that the many townhouses surrounding the town hall, could afford coal for their fireplaces. The air must have been heavenly polluted, because a shadow of the textile pattern was cast in soot on the wall behind the wall hangings in the Mayor’s office. A spectacular floral feast was now visible on the wall.

The archival record mentioned red…. but there are so many shades of red?

The architectural paint research showed that the woodwork of the fireplace, the wainscoting, the doors, the shutters, well, literally everything had been painted red as well. Under the microscope the cross section showed a vibrant layer.

The mayor could have ordered an ironoxide red as a pigment. Or an expensive vermillion maybe? No. He wanted to really splash out on this. A red lake it had to be. A red lake, normally only used for colouring the most expensive textiles – he wanted that on the woodwork as well.

Because of his exuberence and logic, we knew both the pattern and the colour of his wall textile.
So after reconstruction, there it is again: it’s all Red.