Eiffel Tower painters

What colors has the Tower sported over the years?

Monday 21 October 2019

Modified the 22/10/19

For a long time now the Tower has been decked out in marron glacé like a candied chestnut. But has it always worn this color? By Bertrand Lemoine.

The Tower was built of wrought iron, a material that must be protected from corrosion due to exposure to the elements. So the metal has to be painted with a rain-proof covering that provides lasting protection. Since 1968, the choice has been a fairly neutral color made up of three shades of brown (called “Eiffel Tower brown”). It is darker at the base of the tower and lightens as it goes up to give a visual impression of uniformity. Originally, the Tower was painted Venice red, then reddish-brown because of the minium (also called “red lead”) often used in paint at the time for its protective qualities for iron. 

A new layer every 7 years

The paint wears off with time and rain, so it has to be redone to guarantee continued protection. For this reason, the Tower has been repainted on average every seven years, according to a cycle laid out by Gustave Eiffel himself. Its color has varied over the years, from reddish-brown (1889) to ochre-brown (1892), a variation of 5 shades of yellow over its total height (1899), yellow-brown (1907 to 1947), reddish-brown (1954-1961) and since 1968, an “Eiffel Tower brown” of three different tones.

In 2019,  a new painting campaign is beginning! To be continued...

Les différentes couches de peinture

 

Bertrand Lemoine is an architect, engineer and historian. He was a research director at the CNRS and general manager of the Atelier International du Grand Paris. He is an internationally recognized specialist in the history and current events of architecture, construction, the city and heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in Paris, Greater Paris and the Eiffel Tower. He is the author of forty-three books and several hundred articles on these subjects. He is currently a consultant on architectural, urban, digital and energy issues.

Photo de Bertrand Lemoine

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