In the glamorous and extravagant era of the Victorians, fashion took center stage, and no color captivated their hearts more than the vibrant hue of green. From lavish ball gowns to intricate wallpaper, the Victorians embraced this color with fervor, unaware of the dark secrets hidden within its allure. 

According to an eye-opening article on IFLScience, this era had a peculiar relationship with the color green, one that sometimes proved fatal. The vivid green shade that adorned their clothing and living spaces was achieved using a pigment called Scheele’s Green, which contained high levels of arsenic. 


@dspacestv SCHEELE’S GREEN #designhistory #wallpaper #interiordesign #victorian #fyp #weirdfacts #greenscreen #weirdhistory ♬ original sound – Designing Spaces

Yes, you read that correctly. The very color that brought joy and sophistication to the Victorian era was also laced with poison. As revealed by Smithsonian Magazine, the arsenic-laden pigment was widely used in the manufacturing of wallpapers, often releasing toxic fumes into the air that occupants unknowingly inhaled. 

Scheele’s Green, a color to die for – literally

The deadly consequences of this fashionable obsession with green became evident over time. Prolonged exposure to arsenic led to a range of health issues, from skin rashes and respiratory problems to more severe ailments like organ failure and, in some cases, even death. The Victorians unknowingly invited danger into their lives, simply by adorning their homes and bodies with the color they loved so dearly. 

While it may be easy to pass judgment on people from this time for their lack of awareness, it’s crucial to understand the historical context.  

During that time, little was known about the harmful effects of arsenic, and the dangers lurking behind the beauty of Scheele’s Green were yet to be fully uncovered. 

Nevertheless, the toxic legacy of the Victorian era serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us to question the materials and substances we bring into our lives. It’s a testament to the progress we’ve made in understanding the impact of certain chemicals and pigments on our health and well-being. 

As we gaze upon the grandeur of Victorian fashion and décor, let it serve as a reminder that beauty can sometimes conceal danger. The color green, once revered for its elegance, now carries a darker narrative that unveils the perils of ignorance. 

In our modern age, we can appreciate the vibrant greens without risking our lives. The fashion and design industries have taken significant strides in embracing safer and eco-friendly alternatives. The Victorians’ love affair with green may have been tainted, but it also serves as a testament to the ever-evolving nature of our understanding and pursuit of beauty. 

So, the next time you admire a stunning emerald gown or gaze at a verdant landscape, take a moment to appreciate the journey we’ve traveled to ensure our love for green remains safe and untainted.