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Cobalt blue facts for kids

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This box shows the colour cobalt blue.

Cobalt blue is a cool blue colour. People used to make it using cobalt salts. Cobalt blue is used widely by artists. Many pieces of glassware have this colour--glassware that does have this colour is called cobalt glass.

Cobalt blue or Mohammedan blue in impure forms had long been used in Chinese porcelain, but it was independently discovered as a pure alumina-based pigment by Louis Jacques Thénard in 1802. Commercial production began in France in 1807.

Cobalt Blue
Cobalt blue

The first recorded use of cobalt blue as a color name in English was in 1777. The leading world manufacturer of cobalt blue in the 19th century was Benjamin Wegner's Norwegian company Blaafarveværket.

In Culture
Bristol blue glassware. The color is due to cobalt ions in the glass.
Wine Goblet, mid-19th century
Wine Goblet, mid-19th century. Qajar dynasty. Brooklyn Museum.


  • Watercolorist and astrologer John Varley suggested cobalt blue as a good substitution for ultramarine for painting skies, writing in his "List of Colours" from 1818: "Used as a substitute for Ultramarine in its brightness of colour, and superior when used in skies and other objects."
  • Cobalt blue has been used in paintings since its discovery by Thénard by painters such as Turner, the Impressionists such as Renoir, Monet and Post-Impressionists such as Van Gogh. It is stable and lightfast and also compatible with all other pigments.
    Pierre-Auguste Renoir - La Yole
    Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Boating on the Seine (La Yole), ca 1879
  • Maxfield Parrish, famous partly for the intensity of his skyscapes, used cobalt blue, and cobalt blue is sometimes called Parrish blue as a result.
  • Cobalt blue was the primary blue pigment used in Chinese blue and white porcelain for centuries, beginning in the late 8th or early 9th century.


  • Several car manufacturers including Jeep and Bugatti have cobalt blue as one paint options.


  • Because of its chemical stability in the presence of alkali, cobalt blue is used as a pigment in blue concrete.


  • The blue seen on many glassware pieces is cobalt blue, and it is used widely by artists in many other fields.



Video Games


Cobalt blue is toxic when inhaled or ingested. Potters who fail to take adequate precautions when using cobalt blue may succumb to cobalt poisoning.

Tones of cobalt blue colour comparison chart

Name Color HEX Code Red Green Blue Hue Sat Lum Source
Cobalt blue #0047AB 0 71 171 215° 100% 34%
Zaffre #0014AB 0 20 171 233° 100% 34%
Smalt #003399 0 51 63 220° 100% 30% (Dark Powder Blue)
Spanish Cobalt Blue #00438A 0 67 138 211° 100% 27% Cobalt Blue (Gallego & Sanz)
Thenard Blue #333C87 51 60 135 234° 45% 36% Gallego & Sanz

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