The Ancient Library

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blue glass of the ancients he found to "be stained with oxide of cobalt, and the purple with oxide of manganese.

The following list, compiled from the different sources of our information concerning the pigments known to the ancients, will serve to convey an idea of the great resources of the Greek and Ro­man painters in this department of their art; and which, in the opinion of Sir H. Davy, were fully equal to the resources of the great Italian painters in the sixteenth century: —

red. The ancient reds were very numerous. Kwt/dSapi, ju.i\Tos, cinndbaris, cinnabar, vermilion, bisulphuret of mercury, called also by Pliny and Vitruvius minium.

The KivvaSapi 'ij/Si/co*/, cinnabaris Indica, men­tioned by Pliny and Dioscorides, was what is vulgarly called dragon's-blood, the resin obtained from various species of the calamus palm.

MAros seems to have had various significa­tions ; it was used for cinndbaris, minium, red lead, and rubrica, red ochre. There were various kinds of rubricae, the Cappadocian, the Egyptian, the Spanish, and the Leinnian; all were, however, red iron oxides, of which the best were the Lemnian, from the isle of Lemnos, and the Cap­padocian, called by the Romans rubrica Sinopica, .by the Greeks ~2,iv<aTris, from Sinope in Paphlagonia, Avhence it was first brought. There was also an African rubrica called cicerculum.

Minium, red oxide of lead, red lead, was called by the Romans cerussa usta, and, according to Vitruvius, sandaraclia; by the Greeks, jui'a.tos, and, according to Dioscorides (v. 122), <Tav§apdK7}. Pliny tells us that it was discovered through the accidental calcination of some cerussa (white lead) by a fire in the Peiraeeus, and was first used as a pigment by Nicias of Athens, about 330 b. c.

The Roman sandaraeha seems to have had various significations, and it is evidently used differently by the Greek and Roman writers. Pliny speaks of different shades of sandaraeha, the pale or massicot (yellow oxide of lead), and a mixture of the pale with minium ; it apparently also signified realgar or the red sulphuret of arsenic: there was also a compound colour of equal parts of sandaraeha and rubrica calcined, called sandyx, craz/5u£. Sir H. Davy supposed this colour to ap­proach our crimson in tint; in painting it was frequently glazed with purple to give it additional lustre.

Pliny speaks" of a dark ochre from the isle of Syros, which he calls Syricum ; but he says also that it was made by mixing sandyx with rubrica Sinopica.

yellow. Yellow ochre, hydrated peroxide of iron, the stl of the Romans, the &XPa °* the Greeks, formed the base of many other yellows mixed with various colours and carbonate of lime. Ochre was procured from different parts ; the Attic was con­sidered the best ; it was first used in painting, ac­cording to Pliny, by Polygnotus and Micon, at Athens, about 460 b. c.

3Apff€vtK.6v) auripigmentum, orpiment (yellow sulphuret of arsenic), was also an important yel­low ; but it has not been discovered in any of the ancient paintings. The sandaraeha has been al­ready mentioned.

green. Chrysocolla, xPW(ro//coAAaJ which ap­pears to have been green carbonate of copper or malachite (green verditer), was the green most ap-



proved of by the ancients ; its tint depended upon the quantity of carbonate of lime mixed with it.

Pliny mentions various kinds of verdigris (dia-cetate of copper), aerugo, 16s, Us xa^K°v, cypria aerugo, and aeruca, and a particular preparation of verdigris called scolecia. Sir H. Davy supposes the ancients to have used also acetate of copper (distilled verdigris) as a pigment. Besides the above were several green earths, all cupreous oxides : Theodotion (®eo§oVioz/), so called from being found upon the estate of Theodotius, near Smyrna ; Appianum; and the creta viridis, com­mon green earth of Verona.

blue. The ancient blues were also very numerous ; the principal of these was caeruleum, /ciWoy, azure, a species of verditer or blue carbo­nate of copper, of which there were many varieties. It was generally mixed with carbonate of lime. Vitruvius and Pliny speak of the Alexandrian, the Cyprian, and the Scythian ; the Alexandrian was the most valued, as approaching nearest to ultramarine. It was made also at Pozzuoli by a certain Vestorius, who had learnt the method of its preparation in Egypt; this was distinguished by the name of coelon. There was also a washed caeruleum called lomentum, and an inferior descrip­tion of this called triium.

It appears that ultramarine (lapis lazuli) was known to the ancients under the name of Arme-nium, 3Ap/n€vioi>, from Armenia, whence it was procured. Sulphuret of sodium is the colouring principle of lapis lazuli, according to M. Gmelin of Tubingen.

Indigo, Indicum, *\vt)iK.6v, was well known to the ancients.

cobalt. The ancient name for this mineral is not known ; but it has been supposed to be the %aAKos of Theophrastus, which he mentions was used for staining glass. No cobalt, however, has been discovered in any of the remains of ancient painting.

purple. The ancients had also several kinds of purple, purpurissum, ostrum, hysginum, and various compound colours. The most valuable of these was the purpurissum, prepared by mixing the creta argentaria with the purple secretion of the murex (-Trope/) upa).

Hysginum, very lvov (ycryt], woad?), according to Vitruvius, is a colour between scarlet and purple.

The Roman ostrum was a compound of red ochre and blue oxide of copper.

Vitruvius mentions a purple which was obtained by cooling the ochra usta with wine vinegar.

Rubiae radix, madder-root.

brown. Oclira usta, burnt ochre. The browns were ochres calcined, oxides of iron and of manga­nese, and compounds of ochres and blacks.

black, atramentum, jL'J\av. The ancient blacks were mostly carbonaceous. The best for the purposes of painting were elephantinum, e'Ae-fy&v-Tivov, ivory-black ; and tryginum, rpvyivov, vine-black, made of burnt vine twigs. The former was used by Apelles, the latter by Polygnotus and Micon.

The atramentum Indicum, mentioned by Pliny and Vitruvius, was probably the Chinese Indian ink. The blacks from sepia, and the black woad, have been already mentioned.

white. The ordinary Greek white was melinum, /ojAias, an earth from the isle of Melos ; for fresco painting the best was the African paraetonium,


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