Splendid hues: colour, dyes, everyday science and women's fashion, 1840-1875.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Great changes characterized the mid- to late nineteenth century in the field of dye chemistry, including many innovations in the production of colours across the spectrum, especially the development of synthetic dyes from coal-tar aniline. From 1840 to 1875, textile manufacturers offered a wide variety of colourful dress textiles to female fashion consumers in both Great Britain and the United States. Middle-class women were urged to educate themselves about dyeing, science, and colour, while cultivating appropriate, moderate attention to fashion in dress. This thesis examines the mid-nineteenth century relationship of fashion, dye chemistry, and everyday science, exploring consumers’ responses to these phenomena of modernity. Paying special attention to the appreciation of chemistry and colour theory during the period, this project considers how the development of new dyes affected middle-class uses and discussions of colours in women’s dress.
Date of AwardNov 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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