The synthetic dye mauve was first so named in 1859. Chemist William Henry Perkin, then eighteen, was attempting to create a cure for malaria in 1856. An unexpected residue caught his eye, which turned out to be the first aniline dye – specifically, Perkin’s mauve or mauveine, sometimes called aniline purple, but this new dye was originally called Tyrian Purple and was only called mauve after it was marketed in 1859. Earlier references to a mauve dye in 1856–1858 referred to a color produced using the semi-synthetic dye murexide or a mixture of natural dyes. Perkin was so successful in marketing his discovery to the dye industry that his biography by Simon Garfield is simply entitled Mauve. However, as it faded easily, the success of mauve dye was short-lived and it was replaced by other synthetic dyes by 1873. As the memory of the original dye soon receded, the contemporary understanding of mauve is as a lighter, less-saturated color than it was originally known.
The 1890s are sometimes referred to in retrospect as the “Mauve Decade“, because of the characteristic popularity of the subtle color among progressive “artistic” types, both in Europe and the US.
From Wikipedia: Mauve
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