William Perkin in black-and-white:

a self-portrait at 14.


Perkin the inventor

with his second wife

Alexandrine in 1870.


Dr August Hofmann, who thought

his protégé was wasting his time.































‘The torch which enlightens the path of the explorer in dark regions of the interior of the molecule’

but to the dyer all that mattered was brilliance:

a recipe book from 1868.








The mauve, alizarin, crystals and cloth that changed the colour of our streets.


The Perkin Medal has since been won for innovations in nylon, vitamins and medicines.


The sketches show the expansion from 1858 to 1873.


‘Luring on foolish bachelors to sudden proposals’:

a silk dress dyed with original mauve in 1862.


‘A miracle that Perkin did not blow himself and

Greenford Green to pieces’: Perkin (second from

right), his brother Thomas (second from left) and

fellow dyemakers delight in their continued good

health in the field outside their dye works.


The house that

mauve built.


Fame at last: at the British Association

meeting in 1906, Perkin’s illustrious

colleaques paid tribute to a pioneer,

but his name would soon be forgotten.


What dyes did next: a catwalk model

in Paco Rabanne, and a stained micrograph

of the serpentine cords of tuberculosis bacteria.


The grand old master at 68.


An object of ridicule, an object of pride:

gaudy, fugitive and poisonous,

but the new colours proved

irresistible to fashionable

Paris and London.


Source:     Garfield, Simon: Mauve – How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World,

                   New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company.