Ivory black

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Ivory black at 100x (visible light left; UV light right)


An impure black carbon pigment originally prepared from charred ivory or horns. Ivory black is a fine-grain, dense black pigment. Current formulations of ivory black usually contain a fine grade of Bone black with some Prussian blue. Bone black contains about 10% Carbon along with 84% Calcium hydroxyapatite with smaller amounts of Magnesium phosphate and Calcium carbonate. Ivory black is a stable blue-black pigment that is denser than Carbon black and has a good working quality for oil paints and watercolors.

Synonyms and Related Terms

bone black; Pigment Black 9; CI 77267; Elfenbeinschwarz (Deut.); negro marfil (Esp.); noir d'ivoire (Fr.); mayro elefantodontoy (Gr.); nero d'avorio (It.); ivoorzwart (Ned.); negro de marfim (Port.); abaiser; animal black; drop black; Frankfort black; German black, Paris black


Ivory Black.TIF








  • No significant hazards.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Particles irregularly shaped
  • ASTM (1999) lightfastness = I (excellent)
  • Refractive Index = 1.65-1.70

Resources and Citations

  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: "Pigment"
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 108
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Monona Rossol, The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide, Allworth Press, New York, 1994