History of the color Prussian Blue
Prussian Blue is a dark blue pigment that has been widely used in art, fashion, and industry since its discovery in the early 18th century. The pigment is known for its intense, deep blue color and its unique chemical properties that make it stable and long-lasting.
Prussian Blue gets its name from the country in which it was first discovered and synthesized: Prussia, which is now part of modern-day Germany. The pigment was invented in 1704 by a German chemist named Johann Jacob Diesbach, who was trying to develop a red pigment. However, Diesbach accidentally mixed a solution of iron sulfate with a solution of potassium ferrocyanide, and instead of red, he got a beautiful deep blue color. This accidental discovery was the birth of Prussian Blue.
Prussian Blue quickly became popular as an artist’s pigment, and it was also used in the production of blueprints, for coloring textiles, and as a dye for leather. It was even used to treat radiation poisoning during the Cold War, as it has the ability to bind with certain radioactive isotopes and remove them from the body.
During the 19th century, Prussian Blue was used in a unique and unexpected way to create a new type of photographic process known as cyanotype. Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that uses Prussian Blue as the light-sensitive material. It was invented by the English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842.
In the cyanotype process, a sheet of paper or other material is coated with a solution of iron salts and potassium ferricyanide, which is then exposed to ultraviolet light. The areas of the paper that are exposed to light turn a deep blue color, while the areas that are not exposed remain white. The resulting image is a blue-and-white photographic print that has a distinctive, almost ethereal quality.
The cyanotype process was particularly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was used to create a wide range of photographic prints, from scientific illustrations to artistic photographs. Today, cyanotype remains a popular process among photographers and artists who appreciate its unique look and feel.
So, in addition to its use as a pigment in paintings and other works of art, Prussian Blue has had a significant impact on the history of photography as well.
One interesting fact about Prussian Blue is that it was used as a pigment for the uniforms of the Prussian army, which is how it got its name. The pigment was also used by many other armies around the world, including the British, who used it to dye their uniforms during the American Revolution.
Another interesting fact is that Prussian Blue has been used in a number of famous works of art. For example, the French painter Yves Klein used Prussian Blue extensively in his monochrome paintings, which are made up of a single color. The color is also featured in many works by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who used it to create the blue of the iconic “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting.
Overall, Prussian Blue is a fascinating and versatile pigment that has had a significant impact on art, fashion, and industry over the centuries.
Pantone colors and codes
There is a Pantone Prussian Blue which you can find via Googling. But also, there are many colors that we could call (more or less) like Prussian blue. Here are some of them, along with their Pantone color codes.
- Pantone 19-3939 TCX – “Blueprint”
- Pantone 19-4028 TCX – “Insignia Blue”
- Pantone 19-4030 TCX – “True Navy”
- Pantone 19-3923 TCX – “Navy Blazer”
- Pantone 19-3832 TCX – “Navy Blue”
- Pantone 19-4026 TCX – “Ensign Blue”
- Pantone 19-4052 TCX – “Classic Blue”
Paintings feature Prussian Blue
Since you must be interested in art and paintings (that’s why you visited this blog!), here are a few famous paintings that prominently feature Prussian Blue:
- “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai. This famous woodblock print from Japan’s Edo period features the deep blue of Prussian Blue in the turbulent waves that threaten the boats.
- “Blue Poles” by Jackson Pollock. This abstract expressionist painting from 1952-1953 features a series of vertical blue “poles” painted in shades of Prussian Blue.
- “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. This iconic expressionist painting features a dark blue, almost black sky that is painted using Prussian Blue.
- “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. This post-impressionist masterpiece features a deep, swirling blue sky that is made up of several shades of blue, including Prussian Blue.
- “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dalí. This surrealist painting features several clocks melting on a barren landscape, set against a deep blue, Prussian Blue sky.
The history of color is full of interesting stories. Hope this short article will help you get to know and love this beautiful color even more!
Salvador Dalí and the giant melting clock
Salvador Dalí Museums in Europe