The first recorded use of cerulean as a colour name in English was in 1590. The word is derived from the Latin word caeruleus, "dark blue, blue, or blue-green", which in turn probably derives from caerulum, diminutive of caelum, "heaven, sky".
"Cerulean blue" is the name of a pigment. The pigment was discovered in the late eighteenth century and designated as cerulean blue in the nineteenth century.
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At right is displayed the colour cerulean blue.
Cerulean blue pigment
Cerulean blue PB35
A sample swatch of cerulean blue hue oil paint. 'Hue' in this case means that other pigments have been used to mimic the hue of oil paint containing the original pigment.
In classical times, the word caerulum was used to describe blue pigments, particularly mixtures of copper and cobaltousoxides, like azurite and smalt. These early attempts to create sky blue colours were often less than satisfactory due to a limited saturation and the tendency to discolour in reaction with other pigments. See also Tekhelet.
Cerulean Blue in oil, as a glaze (left) and the mass tone (right)
The pigment Cerulean blue was discovered in 1789 by the Swiss chemist Albrecht Höpfner. Subsequently there was a limited German production under the name of Cölinblau. It was in 1860 first marketed in the United Kingdom by colourman George Rowney, as "coeruleum". Other nineteenth century English pigment names included "ceruleum blue" and "corruleum blue".
Pigments through the ages shows a "Painted swatch of cerulean blue" that is representative of the actual cobalt stannate pigment. This colour swatch matches the colour shown in the colour box at right. See also painted swatch and crystals of cerulean blue at ColourLex.
The primary chemical constituent of the pigment is cobalt(II) stannate. The precise hue of the pigment is dependent on a variable silicate component. The pigment is very expensive.
When the pigment cerulean blue (shown in the colour box to the left) was discovered, it became a useful addition to Prussian blue, cobalt blue and synthetic ultramarine which already had superseded the prior pigments.
Today, cobalt chromate is sometimes marketed under the cerulean blue name but is darker and greener (Rex Art colour index PB 36) than the cobalt stannate version (colour index PB 35). The chromate makes excellent turquoise colours and is identified by Rex Art and some other manufacturers as "cobalt turquoise".
Used as early as 1790 by the poet Charlotte Smith in her poem "Beachy Head" - "...And Ocean now, reflecting the calm Heaven / Is of cerulean hue...." (lines 30 -31 ibid)
Cerulean was nominated by Pantone in 1999 as the "colour of the millennium". (See the colour pale cerulean above)
In The Devil Wears Prada, a blue, but more precisely cerulean, sweater worn by the protagonist Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) becomes the subject of a lecture by fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) on the influence of the fashion industry.
Repetition of the words "cerulean blue" is a method the "Pusher" villain uses at the beginning of the eponymous X-Files episode 17 season 3 in order to lull his victims to do what he wants.
Cerulean is the name of the main antagonists in the anime series Kemono Friends which are cerulean coloured creatures with varied shapes and sizes.