1) The dark brown-black liquid secreted by the cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis or other Cephalopoda. The ink sacs and fluid are removed from the squid and sun-dried; then the color is extracted with alkali and precipitated with acid. Sepia was used for inks since antiquity. It was first introduced as a watercolor pigment mixed with gum arabic about 1780 by Jacob Seydelmann in Dresden. Sepia is a natural organic acid that is fairly permanent, except in strong sunlight.
2) A dark, warm black color resembling the tone obtained from cuttlefish ink. Other pigment mixtures of burnt umber, Vandyke brown, and lampblack are also sold under the name sepia.
3) (not common) A powder composed of ground cuttlefish bones. Sepia powder, also called sepiolite, is composed of calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. It is used as a polishing agent.
Synonyms and Related Terms
1) Warm Black; cuttlefish ink; sepiomelanin; Natural Brown 9; sépia (Fr., Port.)
3) cuttlefish bone; cuttlebone; sepiolite;
Physical and Chemical Properties
Soluble in ammonium hydroxide, alkalis. Insoluble in acids, water, ethanol. Decolorized by nitric acid and chlorine bleaches. Fishy odor. Fugitive in ultraviolet light.
Resources and Citations
- R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
- Helmut Schweppe, Schweppe color collection index and information book
- G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 609
- 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)
- Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
- Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
- R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982
- Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
- Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
- The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 8601
- The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
- Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com Comment: "sepia." (Accessed 7 Apr. 2005).
- The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: 'Pigment'