Colour Chart

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When discussing about colours we always must have in mind:

  1. That we cannot remember colours, so we have to describe them, we have to use synonyms or analogies (or nowadays colour-codes like RAL, Pantone, RGB, CMYK). The words chosen in the past are quite a really good hint: brick-red, jonquille-yellow, caput mortum, antwerpen-blue... Some libraries supply colour-guides or colour-atlas with numbered samples and comparatative lists of names used in the past. This is a rare but very good source, probably the second best after the own eye-whitness of real textiles or sample-books in museums.
  2. In the second half of the 18th century some new colours appeared, following fashion-trends: bleu-mourant, pale green, pale pink, linzer-yellow - and of course they were chosen for distinguishing between the numerous regiments. Here fashion met practical military sense (this led to some of the most unusual but highly attractive designed colour-combinations).
  3. Colouring varies because of the process, the result is the better the earlier in the process the colouring is done. Wool can be coloured as wool, as spinned reels and as woven textile, quality differs in respect to equality of results.
  4. It was always a question of price, officers ordered much better textiles than privates because they could afford it. For the mass of soldiers in the 18th century much more cheaper quality textiles were brought. Regiment chief could save a lot of money! On the other hand, regiments tried to fit really good uniforms to their musicians, ensigns, NCOs....
  5. Colours vary on different basic-materials: wool, linen, silk, cotton, and leather accept the colours in different ways. This results in differing appearance!
  6. Unbleeched textiles (the natural tone) may change its colour after washing and exposure in sunlight. So there must have been differences in the appearance of a regiment with brand new uniforms in comparison to regiments wearing old uniforms in continuous service. This should be taken into account, especially with Austrian or French uniforms.
  7. Some colour-groups in our culture are more common than others: we have only one word for the colours around orange but dozens of words describing all kinds of red and blue-tones. This may show how much cultural care was kept on this things in the past.
  8. Contemporary dyeing processes did not fix colours very firmly and uniform colours tended to fade rather quickly.


Here is an attempt to create a standardized color chart. Alternative names are noted in foreign languages, where possible. These will be organized by hues: reds, greens, yellows, blues, etc. Names are given in various languages, each language separated by a forward slash. Languages in order are English, then German, French, Spanish, etc.

A note on the color coordinates: these are for their appearance on cloth--usually wool--rather than on idealized web colors. The latter tend to be much too bright compared to real-life equivalents. This is notably the case with scarlet, though other brighter colors here also have this trend. It cannot be emphasized sufficiently that these are approximations. Some are based on actual illustrations--or even surviving uniforms--but these still fall under the issues noted above.

A notable exception are colors taken from the CIELab coordinates provided by Dominique Cardon in her publications: these were taken directly from wool swatches found preserved in the workbook of one Antoine Janot--an actual French dyer from the mid-18th century. Janot compiled his notes and close to the time-period in question, and thus provides an invaluable insight into how mid-18th century people saw colors.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
madder red/Krapprot/Garance/Encarnandas or Garanza   141 30 24 Janot, 2021 Often called "brick red" in reference to British uniforms; a deep pink or blood-red color. If an army distinguishes between ponceau and "red", this would be the latter. Will fade to a dusty rose color, or brownish-crimson color. Original samples from the time consistently show this color.
Carmine or Crimson/Carmoisinrot/Carmoisi   103 33 47 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806; Bavarian Uhlan uniform, 1910; Janot, 2016 and 2021
light crimson/Hellkarmoisinrot/Fleur de peche   181 88 85 Cardon, 2016; depiction of a Prussian soldier (IR 41), 1757; sample of Prussian wool swatch, 1806
flesh colored/Rosenrot/Couleur de chair   215 127 122 Prussian Infantry uniform, 1806; depiction of IR 40 (aka von Kreytzen Fusiliers), 1757 Roughly the color of a raw steak; can be slightly more purple or pink in hue.
Crimson/Bordeauxrot(?)   151 26 56 C.E.Franklin This is the british meaning for crimson.
Amaranth   116 42 66 Wikipedia
Tile red/(Hell)Ziegelrot   227 54 17 Prussian uniform guide, 1806 Not to be confused with British "brick red"; a red-orange color. This is the approximate facing color Baron von Schönaich Cuirassiers
Poppy Red/Poncearot or Mohnrot/Ponceau or Ecarlate de feu   185 49 52 Janot, 2021 A duller and slightly deeper version of scarlet; apparently most common Prussian facing color. Often fades to an orange color (As shown on surviving uniform of Buddenbrok Cuirassiers). Same as fire red.
Dark Red   105 39 41 Austrian uniform guide, 1905
Lobster or Crab Red/Krebsrot   250 93 76 Austrian uniform guide, 1905
Rose/Rosa or Rosenrot/Rose   193 60 72 Janot, 2021 A very vivid shade of pink; not quite what the Prussians used for pink (see Flesh color).
pale red/Blassrot   254 103 102
Scarlet/Scharlachtrot   209 40 32 Based on Morier's depiction of various british officers and horse; Prussia uniform guide, 1806; depiction of IR 24 soldier, 1757 color varied signifigantly over time, and becomes slightly more orange over the course of the 18th century. "mock" or "half" scarlet simply refers to slightly duller and lower quality versions of this color (still brighter than Poppy red).
Scarlet/Ecarlate   175 40 49 Cardon, 2021 This was the color simply labelled "scarlet" in Janot's workbook.

Yellows and Oranges

Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Light Orange/Aurore   255 203 96
Bright yellow   249 225 10
Orange   244 104 11
Ochre (yellow)   234 162 33 Wikipedia
Jonquil or Naples Yellow   250 218 94 Wikipedia
light Yellow/ Hellgelb   252 234 93 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806 possibly the same as pale yellow
Lemon Yellow   250 236 23 RAL, sample of German uniform, 1806 Prussian uniforms Exact color of a fresh lemon
Pale yellow   251 244 166 -
Yellow   250 200 39 British uniforms
philamot yellow   236 191 30 C.E.Franklin The painting of the 13th by Morier depicts the unit prior to switching to this color; prior to then, the unit had deep yellow facings.
Deep yellow/Kaisergelb   244 174 29 Karsten, 1759, Hanoverian uniforms Kaisergelb in English literature can also be translated as Gamboge; comparison between the "golden yellow" of Hanoverian uniforms with British uniforms matches best those regimetns with deep yellow. Later iterations are brighter (See Austrian uniform guide, 1905), but these postdate the period.
Saffron Yellow   244 196 48 Wikipedia possible the same, or similar to deep yellow
Feuille Morte   153 81 43 -
Sulfur yellow/Scwefelgelb   235 232 103 Prussian Infatnry units, 1806; Austrian uniform guide, 1905 a greenish yellow color.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Green   34 146 69 C.E.Franklin
Apple green/Apfelgrün   129 143 66 Hanoverian Horse Regiment v. Dachenhausen, Cardon, 2021 Color of an unripened (or green) apple)
Celadon green/Apfelgrün   130 144 113 Cardon, 2016; Cardon, 2021 Color of jade.
Bottle Green/Flaschegrün   27 77 62
Full Green   43 74 34 Morier's painting of a grenadier of the 11th regiment, 1750
Pale green (British)   45 113 102 C.E.Franklin
Deep green   0 84 61 Triangulated based on green and very deep green C.E.Frankling gives a different shade; however, this appears too light and pale to be correct. Admittedly this is a matter of judgement.
Very deep green   0 84 61 C.E.Franklin
Grass Green/Graßgrün   69 132 62 C.E.Franklin
Gosling Green   94 157 68 painting of a Grenadier of the 5th regiment of foot, 1750; C.E. Franklin initially called "Gooseturd Green"
Russian green?   0 71 31 Joachim Schultz
Sage green   134 158 98 Wiktionary
Sea Green/Meergrün   3 97 103 C.E.Franklin, referenced with depiction of grenadier of 2nd Regiment of foot (Morier, 1751)
Willow Green   74 80 70 painting of a Grenadier of the 24th regiment of foot, 1751
Yellowish Green/Olive   70 73 45 Painting of a Grenadier of the 19th regiment by, 1751; Cardon, 2016. These two sources independently show a similar color, though Janot's handbook illustrates a different color under the French name for "yellowish green".
Poppinjay Green/Papageigrün/Vert perroquet   166 194 57 Janot, 2021 Also called Pappelgrün (poplar green) in German sources; a bright, yellow-green color. This shade was taken directly from Antoine Janot's notebook. May be the same as Gosling Green, but if so, the British version of Poppinjay Green was closer to this: #82731C (taken from images of 54th regiment reenactors).
Dark Green/   91 179 93 depiction of Hanoverian uniform, 1759; C.E.Franklin
Steel Green/Stahlgrün   75 99 75 Austrian uniform guide, 1905 deep grey-green color.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Dark blue (Indigo)/dunkelblau/ aile de corbeau   37 46 66 Cardon, 2021 French name taken directly from Antoine Janot's workbook name. Facing color of Royal Regiments in British service.
Turkish blue/Turkischblau/ Bleu Turquin   36 54 76 Cardon, 2021; Album di Taccoli, c. 1760 Color and its name taken directly from Janot's workbook; close match to Taccoli's depiction.
Royal blue/Franzblau/ Bleu de Roi/   40 59 82 Cardon, 2021; Grenadiers de France depiction, 1757; Broglie's painting; Project SYW page on Generals' uniforms Color and name taken directly from Janot's workbook. Further investigation of Delacre Bilderschrift and Albertina handschrift suggest Franzblau and Bleu de Roi are the same or similar colors.
Medium blue or celestial blue/Ganzblau oder Mittleblau/ Bleu celeste   41 67 91 Cardon, 2021; Sealand Regiment (Denmark), 1760; Hanoverian infantry, 1759; Ignaz Schiffermüller, 1771 Color name taken directly from Janot's workbook.
Azure blue/Himmelblau/ Bleu d'Azure   50 82 103 Wikipedia widely seen as the color of Prussian Dragoon uniforms, and termed cobalt blue; however, depictions of Dragoons from 1759 suggests they had sky blue coats; the cobalt blue coats are likely postwar.
Sky blue/Himmelblau/ Bleu de ciel   62 96 113 Cardon, 2016; Cardon, 2021; original pair of Civil War pants Correct color of Prussian Dragoon coats in this era.
baby blue/??/ Bleu mignon   102 129 139 Cardon, 2016; Cardon, 2021. Name taken directly from Antoine Janot's book.
whitish blue/??/ Bleu deblanche   118 142 141 Cardon, 2016; Cardon, 2021. Name and color taken directly from Antoine Janot's book.
Prussian/Saxon blue/Bleu de Prusse   154 172 175 Cardon, 2016 This was the 18th century understanding of the term "Prussian" Blue. Extremely unstable as a color, as it first fades to a blue-green, then yellow-green.
Cornflower or Hungarian blue/Ungarischblau   106 155 211 - Commonly assumed to be color of Bavarian coats after the war; true color so-called "Savoy blue"--a shade similar to either Azure or celestial blue.
Medium Blue (Swedish)   35 69 202 Sample of the Swedish lifeguard uniform
Pale blue(British)/NA/NA   76 95 137 C.E. Franklin
Bleumorant   22 116 146 Depiction of Hanoverian von Ahlenfeldt Regiment Ignaz Schiffermüller describes this color as a medium desaturated blue, as depicted here.
Steel blue/Hellblau(?)   70 130 180 Wikipedia; depiction of Hanoverian Artillery, 1759 Possible color of Hanoverian artillery coats; might have also been Hechtgrau.
Lavender blue   108 119 181 - Polish guard facing color; similar to pale blue, and may even be the same.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Pompadeur purple   84 48 60 sample of cuff of a British officer's uniform Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année, illustrates the French Regiment Belzunce with facings of this color.
Pompadeur Rose   163 29 81
Violet   55 51 72 Cardon, 2016 from coloremetric analysis provided in source.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Yellowish-buff   252 248 201 - Often translated from German to "yellow-Straw" or "straw-yellow"
Pale brown   152 118 84 Wikipedia
Pale buff/Blaßpaille   241 216 153 Paintings of several Grenadier regiments, Morier 1751; Prussian uniform depiction from 1806 Often translated from German to "pale straw"; often depicted as a near-white color, or simply left unpainted. Pale straw may be slightly more yellow, though Morier himself depicts a yellowish color. This color was tested and found appropriate.
Dark Brown   101 67 33 Wikipedia
Buff/Paille/ventre de biche   253 225 178 Author's personal buff crossbelt the German term literally means "straw", but correspends to English Buff; the color may have been more yellowish than in Britain, though Morier also depicts this color as being yellowish. It and other shades of buff vary considerably. Antoine Janot's notebook illustrate's a similar color.
Fawn   149 128 112 Often assumed to be shade of Austrian Artillerists coat.
Chamois   223 199 121 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806 A shade of buff.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Slate Grey   47 79 79 Wikipedia deep, cyan-grey color.
Pike Grey/Hechtgrau   141 169 197 Austrian Uniform guide, 1905 color of Austrian Jaeger uniform. Can also be considered a shade of blue.
Ash Grey/Aschgrau   182 196 187 Wikipedia A bright, slightly green shade of grey; color of fully-burned wood ash.
Dark Grey   52 52 51
iron Grey   67 75 77 - Deep, slightly bluish grey.
light Grey   173 165 162
Medium Grey   101 193 90
Black   33 30 30 - Pure black as generally understood was very rare prior to industrial dyes.
White (natural)   235 231 219 - Bleached white wool was expensive, and reserved for the well-off.
Pearl Grey   208 208 201 - general color of wool; also considered grey-white.


  1. Philemot yellow and Feuille Morte may in fact be one in the same color, or have similar descriptive meanings (i.e. describing the color od dead leaves). If so, the different interpretations of this color may be related to the uneven dying of the period, a difference in shade between continental European and British definitions.
  2. Some confusion exists regarding the nature of Bottle, Rifle, and Deep green: They may be one in the same, or three similar shades of green.
  3. Strangely, Contemporary depictions of regiments faced in "grass green" (e.g., 36th regiment of foot), reveal color much darker than expected for the term. This is supported by the 1905 Austrian Uniform guide, which also defines the color as a shade of darker green.
  4. according to the research of Kochan and Phillips, Popinjay Green and Gosling Green may have been referring to the same color.
  5. Regarding "straw"; period depictions of units described as wearing straw--Notably those of Hanoverian units--often show a color similar to the buff leather equipment they may wear.


Austrian Uniform guide,

C.E. Franklin, 2012, British Army Uniforms from 1751 to 1783, Pen & Sword Books Ltd.

Cardon, Dominique, 2016, The Dyer's handbook: Memoirs of an 18th century master colourist, Oxbow books.

Cardon, Dominique and Bremaud, Iris, 2021, Workbook, Antoine Janot's colors, CNRS Editions.

David Morier, 1751, Paintings of Various soldiers for the Duke of Cumberland,

Kochan and Phillips, 2013,

Prussian Infantry uniforms of 1806,


Ibrahim90 for the initial version of this article and Joachim Schulz for the initial version of the introduction.