Tag Archives: Puce

Give Puce a Chance

Thoughts on puce suggested by this (presumably) early 1914 pamphlet. Wyndham Lewis's Vorticist magazine BLAST (aka 'the puce monster') appeared in July of that year, the same month as war broke out and the pamphlet, judging by the title, appeared earlier that year. Was there a load of puce dye offloaded in London at that time, was it the colour of the moment? Is this really puce? Ezra Pound called Blast  “the great MAGENTA cover'd opusculus” The big Bloomsbury dictionary describes puce as 'a brilliant purplish red colour.' Did Wyndham Lewis spot someone hawking the pamphlet in the street, it seems quite possible - even the typography is similar (at least the angular printing...)

The pamphlet (of which I have the cover only) is unknowable, no such title shows at WorldCat or Copac and the title page may have born a different title and possibly the name of an author. A colour that used to be seen in the 1990s 'hot pink' was similar to puce but rather cheap looking; the 1940s Elsa Schiaparelli colour 'shocking pink' is nearer to the mark but puce has a glamour all of its own. A fine copy of the first BLAST is a rare and valuable thing. They usually turn up in distressing shape; as for the war pamphlet it is probably too rare to have real value.

Below is a recently added and obviously modern puce punk publication - of which I know nothing, except it appears to be part of the enviable collection of kunstler Richard Prince. Such material was highly collected a few years back but  the punk artefact looks somehow more dated than the irascible Lewis's 100 year old puce monstrosity…