Vert de Gris: An Ode To Belgium

For my first article on Sensational Color, I’ve decided to write about what I know best and love most – the colors of Belgium, my little country. It is not easy reducing a country to one color. However there is a palette that defines this low land and its quiet nostalgic beauty; Vert de Gris. Vert de Gris

In French, Vert de Gris literally means green of gray – but more generally, it has come to describe a grayish/greensish/bluesh deposit that forms on copper, brass or bronze surfaces (it is also a poison).

This nuanced color includes combinations of many shades ranging from mossy grays, to silvery greens and steely blues – hues that fit Belgium’s heavy rainy skies and landscapes of green.

Vert de Gris BelgiumQuite naturally, these palettes are reflected in architecture and urban landscapes. Vert de Gris baroque churchCombinations of gray and green thread through time; on doors of Medieval walls and entrances to Baroque churches.Vert de Gris gate

Vert de Gris door During the Art Nouveau period, when industry and nature were celebrated, green and gray were particularly popular;Vert de Gris Art Nouveau

Vert de Gris Brussel And today, in Brussels, these colors continue to grace busy streets. (Belgium is the capital of comic strips or “BD” which decorate many city walls as murals – this one is a Belgian version of Edward Hopper’s “ Nighthawks”)Vert de Gris Wall MuralI have even spotted Vert de Gris combinations in the port of Antwerp

Vert de Gris boatand on a more romantic scale in my neighborhood flea market. Vert de gris at Flea Market To me, the colors of Vert de Gris spell “home” and are as soothing, poetic and comforting as a gentle rainy day. Avid travelers and color lovers will be charmed by Belgium’s color palettes… and the beer and chocolate! About Michele Coppin Like poetry, color feeds my spirit; it sings soothing little ballads but also shouts overwhelming and inspiring speeches. It is a constant companion, a lover – filling my canvases, guiding my lens, and pours from my pen. As a driven apostle, I want to share its beauty and power.  You can see more from Michele at


  1. The novel “Field Gray” by Philip Kerr (Putnam, 2011) is titled “vert-de-gris” in the French version.