Cerulean blue

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Cerulean blue


A synthetic sky blue pigment originally composed of cobalt stannate. Cerulean blue was perfect by a process developed by Andreas Höpfner in Germany in 1805 that roasted cobalt and tin oxides. However, the color was sold as an artists pigment in 1860 by Rowney and Company under the name of coeruleum (Gettens and Stout 1966). Cerulean blue is an inert, lightfast pigment that acts as a drier for oil paints. Some commercial color formulations sold as the cerulean blue hue include:

- oxides of cobalt and aluminum
- cobalt chromate
- oxides of cobalt, aluminum, and chromium
- titanium dioxide and phthalocyanine
- zinc oxide and phthalocyanine
Cerulean blue

Synonyms and Related Terms

cobalt stannate; Pigment Blue 35; CI 77346; CI 77368; azul cerúleo (Esp.); Coelinblau (Deut.); bleu ciel (Fr.); bleu ceruleum (Fr.); blu ceruleo (It.); ceruleum blauw (Ned.); azul cerúleo (Port.); cobaltous stannate; cobalt tin oxide; coelin; ceruleum blue; caeruleum; coeruleum; cobalt magneium stannate; magnesium cerulean blue




MFA- Cerulean blue.jpg


Cerulean blue (bottle 434).PNG







Other Properties

Very fine, rounded, isotropic, greenish-blue particles. High refractive index.

No birefringence. No pleochroism. Appears deep red through Chelsea filter.

Inert to acids and bases.

Composition CoO-nSnO2
Refractive Index 1.78 - 1.84

Hazards and Safety

Skin contact may cause allergies. Chronic inhalation may cause asthma and possible fibrosis. Ingestion may cause acute vomiting and diarrhea.

Additional Information

Pigments Through the Ages: Cerulean blue


Characteristics of Common Blue Pigments

Additional Images


  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: first sold in 1860
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 810
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: "Pigment"
  • M. Doerner, The Materials of the Artist, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing) Comment: introduced as artist pigment in 1870
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980
  • David Bomford, Jo Kirby, John Leighton, Ashok Roy, Art in the Making:Impressionism, National Gallery, London, 1990 Comment: introduced as water color pigment by Rowney in 1860

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