Cobalt violet

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Cobalt violet (deep)


A general name for several violet color cobalt pigments. First developed in 1859, cobalt violet was the primary permanent violet pigment available. Cobalt violets range from deep to pale shades with either a pink or blue hue. The first cobalt violets used were composed of cobalt arsenate. This highly toxic compound is now rarely used. Instead most current cobalt violets are nontoxic and are made from either cobalt phosphate, or cobalt ammonium phosphate. Cobalt violets are used in paints, glass, glazes and enamels.

Synonyms and Related Terms

cobalt arsenate (light); cobalt phosphate (deep); Kobaltviolett (Deut.); violeta de cobalto (Esp.); violet de cobalt (Fr.); violetto di cobalto (It.); violeta de cobalto (Port.)

FTIR (MFA) (Cobalt Phosphate 498)

Cobalt Violet, dark (498).PNG

FTIR (MFA) (Cobalt Arsenate 501)

Cobalt Violet(501).PNG

Raman (MFA) (532nm)

Cobalt violet (Forbes MFA 498), 50X, 532 nm.TIF

Raman (MFA) (785nm)

Cobalt violet dark (Forbes MFA 498), 785nm resize.tif

Raman (MFA) (532nm)

Cobalt violet light, collodion slide (Forbes MFA 501), 532 nm.TIF


Slide11 F498.PNG


  • Skin contact may cause allergies, especially on elbows, neck and ankles.
  • Chronic inhalation may cause asthma.
  • Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea and the sensation of hotness.

Resources and Citations

  • Corbeil, Marie-Claude, Jean-Pierre Charland, Elizabeth Moffatt. 'The characterization of cobalt violet pigments' Studies in Conservation vol.47 (2002), pp.237-249.
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997