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

Ultramarine Ultramarine Pure Ultramarine Azure Outremer Under The Name Of Leitch's Blue facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail