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Ultramarine With The Cyanus And Coeruleum Of The Ancients; But








their cyanus, or Armenian blue, was a kind of mineral or mountain blue,
tinged with copper; and their coeruleum, although it may sometimes
have been real ultramarine, was properly and in general a copper ochre.
That ultramarine was known to the ancients there seems every
probability, for it is certain they were acquainted with the stone; and
modern travellers describe the brilliant blue painting still remaining
in the ruins of temples of Upper Egypt as having all the appearance of
ultramarine. Whether it is so or not, however, could only be proved by
analysis; for, be it recollected, although the colour had preserved its
hue during so many centuries, it had been completely buried, and
therefore most perfectly secluded from light and air. Mr. Layard, in his
'Nineveh,' referring to some painted plaster, remarks that "The colours,
particularly the blues and reds, were as brilliant and vivid when the
earth was removed from them as they could originally have been; but, on
exposure to the air, they faded rapidly." In all likelihood, these were
of organic, or semi-organic, origin, prepared in some such manner as
that mentioned by Pliny, who speaks of an earth which, when boiled with
plants, acquired their blue colour, and was in some measure inflammable.
As a pigment, cobalt was unknown to the ancients; but to these vegetable
and copper blues of theirs, a third blue may perhaps be added.
Experiments made upon blue tiles, found in a Roman tesselated
foot-pavement at Montbeillard, showed that the colour was due to iron.
M. Gmelin has proved that a blue tint can be imparted to glass and
enamel by means of iron; and it is probable that the ancients were first
induced by the blue slag of their smelting-houses to study the colouring
of glass with iron; that in this art they acquired a dexterity not
possessed at present, and that they employed their iron-smalt as a
pigment, as we do our smalt of cobalt. To sum up, there are grounds for
believing that the ancients were acquainted with copper blues,
vegetable blues, and iron blues; and that, consequently, the blue
described by travellers as having all the appearance of ultramarine may,
or may not, be that pigment.

Lapis lazuli, or lazulite, is usually disseminated in a rock, which





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Previous: Lazurium As We Are Told Is Made It Has Been Common To Confound



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