Cerulean blue

Revision as of 10:49, 24 May 2022 by MDerrick (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cerulean blue


Cerulean blue at 500x
Cerulean blue at 500x polarized light

A synthetic sky blue pigment originally composed of cobalt magnesium stannate. Cerulean blue was perfected by a process developed by Andreas Höpfner in Germany in 1805 that roasted cobalt and tin oxides. However, the color was not sold as an artist pigment until 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

Synonyms and Related Terms

cobalt magnesium 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; magnesium cerulean blue

Raman (MFA)

Cerulean blue, collodion slide (Forbes MFA 434), 50X, 532 nm.TIF


Cerulean blue (bottle 434).PNG







Physical and Chemical 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


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


Characteristics of Common Blue Pigments

Resources and Citations

  • 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