Blue is one of the three primary colours of pigments in painting and
traditional colour theory, as well as in the RGB colour model. It lies
between violet and green on the spectrum of visible light. The eye
perceives blue when observing light with a dominant wavelength between
approximately 450 and 495 nanometres. Most blues contain a slight
mixture of other colors; azure contains some green, while ultramarine
contains some violet. The clear daytime sky and the deep sea appear
blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. An
optical effect called
Tyndall scattering explains blue eyes. Distant
objects appear more blue because of another optical effect called
Blue has been an important colour in art and decoration since ancient
times. The semi-precious stone lapis lazuli was used in ancient Egypt
for jewellery and ornament and later, in the Renaissance, to make the
pigment ultramarine, the most expensive of all pigments. In the eighth
century Chinese artists used cobalt blue to colour fine blue and white
porcelain. In the Middle Ages, European artists used it in the windows
of Cathedrals. Europeans wore clothing coloured with the vegetable dye
woad until it was replaced by the finer indigo from America. In the
19th century, synthetic blue dyes and pigments gradually replaced
mineral pigments and synthetic dyes. Dark blue became a common colour
for military uniforms and later, in the late 20th century, for
business suits. Because blue has commonly been associated with
harmony, it was chosen as the colour of the flags of the United
Nations and the European Union.
Surveys in the US and Europe show that blue is the colour most
commonly associated with harmony, faithfulness, confidence, distance,
infinity, the imagination, cold, and sometimes with sadness. In US
and European public opinion polls it is the most popular colour,
chosen by almost half of both men and women as their favourite
colour. The same surveys also showed that blue was the colour most
associated with the masculine, just ahead of black, and was also the
colour most associated with intelligence, knowledge, calm and
1 Shades and variations
2 Etymology and linguistic differences
3 Science and nature
Pigments and dyes
3.3 Scientific natural standards
3.4 Why the sky and sea appear blue
3.5 Atmospheric perspective
4.1 In the ancient world
4.2 In the
Byzantine Empire and the
4.3 During the Middle Ages
4.4 In the European Renaissance
Blue and white porcelain
4.6 War of the blues – indigo versus woad
4.8 Search for the perfect blue
4.9 Impressionist painters
4.11 In the 20th and 21st century
5 In world culture
5.1 As a national and international colour
5.7 Associations and sayings
6.1 The blues of antiquity
6.2 Association football
6.3 North American sporting leagues
7 See also
8.1 Notes and citations
9 External links
Shades and variations
Main article: Shades of blue
Blue is the colour of light between violet and green on the visible
spectrum. Hues of blue include indigo and ultramarine, closer to
violet; pure blue, without any mixture of other colours; Cyan, which
is midway in the spectrum between blue and green, and the other
blue-greens turquoise, teal, and aquamarine.
Blue also varies in shade or tint; darker shades of blue contain black
or grey, while lighter tints contain white. Darker shades of blue
include ultramarine, cobalt blue, navy blue, and Prussian blue; while
lighter tints include sky blue, azure, and Egyptian blue. (For a more
complete list see the List of colours).
Blue pigments were originally made from minerals such as lapis lazuli,
cobalt and azurite, and blue dyes were made from plants; usually woad
in Europe, and Indigofera tinctoria, or true indigo, in Asia and
Africa. Today most blue pigments and dyes are made by a chemical
Pure blue, also known as high blue, is not mixed with any other
Navy blue, here worn by Admiral Horatio Nelson, is the darkest shade
of pure blue
Sky blue or pale azure, mid-way on the RBG colour wheel between blue
Egyptian blue goblet from Mesopotamia, 1500–1300 BC. This was the
first synthetic blue, first made in about 2500 BC.
Extract of natural indigo, the most popular blue dye before the
invention of synthetic indigo
A block of lapis lazuli, originally used to make ultramarine
Ultramarine, slightly violet-blue, in a painting by Giovanni Bellini.
It was the most expensive pigment of Renaissance.
Cobalt coloured the stained glass windows of
Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
Prussian blue, the colour of the uniforms of the army of Prussia, was
invented in about 1706
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh used the synthetic pigment cobalt blue for the sky of
his starry night
Etymology and linguistic differences
The modern English word blue comes from
Middle English bleu or blewe,
Old French bleu, a word of Germanic origin, related to the
Old High German
Old High German word blao. In heraldry, the word azure is used for
In Russian and some other languages, there is no single word for blue,
but rather different words for light blue (голубой, goluboy)
and dark blue (синий, siniy). See Colour term.
Several languages, including Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Lakota Sioux,
use the same word to describe blue and green. For example, in
Vietnamese the colour of both tree leaves and the sky is xanh. In
Japanese, the word for blue (青 ao) is often used for colours that
English speakers would refer to as green, such as the colour of a
traffic signal meaning "go". (For more on this subject, see
Distinguishing blue from green in language)
Science and nature
Human eyes perceive blue when observing light which has a dominant
wavelength of roughly 450–495 nanometres.
Blues with a higher
frequency and thus a shorter wavelength gradually look more violet,
while those with a lower frequency and a longer wavelength gradually
appear more green. Pure blue, in the middle, has a wavelength of 470
Isaac Newton included blue as one of the seven colours in his first
description the visible spectrum, He chose seven colours because that
was the number of notes in the musical scale, which he believed was
related to the optical spectrum. He included indigo, the hue between
blue and violet, as one of the separate colours, though today it is
usually considered a hue of blue.
In painting and traditional colour theory, blue is one of the three
primary colours of pigments (red, yellow, blue), which can be mixed to
form a wide gamut of colours.
Red and blue mixed together form violet,
blue and yellow together form green. Mixing all three primary colours
together produces a dark grey. From the
Renaissance onwards, painters
used this system to create their colours. (See
RYB colour system.)
RYB model was used for colour printing by Jacob Christoph Le Blon
as early as 1725. Later, printers discovered that more accurate
colours could be created by using combinations of magenta, cyan,
yellow and black ink, put onto separate inked plates and then overlaid
one at a time onto paper. This method could produce almost all the
colours in the spectrum with reasonable accuracy.
In the 19th century the Scottish physicist
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell found a
new way of explaining colours, by the wavelength of their light. He
showed that white light could be created by combining red, blue and
green light, and that virtually all colours could be made by different
combinations of these three colours. His idea, called additive colour
or the RGB colour model, is used today to create colours on
televisions and computer screens. The screen is covered by tiny
pixels, each with three fluorescent elements for creating red, green
and blue light. If the red, blue and green elements all glow at once,
the pixel looks white. As the screen is scanned from behind with
electrons, each pixel creates its own designated colour, composing a
complete picture on the screen.
Additive colour mixing. The projection of primary colour lights on a
screen shows secondary colours where two overlap; the combination red,
green, and blue each in full intensity makes white.
Blue and orange pixels on an LCD television screen. Closeup of the
red, green and blue sub-pixels on left.
On the HSV colour wheel, the complement of blue is yellow; that is, a
colour corresponding to an equal mixture of red and green light. On a
colour wheel based on traditional colour theory (RYB) where blue was
considered a primary colour, its complementary colour is considered to
be orange (based on the Munsell colour wheel).
Pigments and dyes
Blue pigments were made from minerals, especially lapis lazuli and
2). These minerals were crushed, ground into powder, and then mixed
with a quick-drying binding agent, such as egg yolk (tempera
painting); or with a slow-drying oil, such as linseed oil, for oil
painting. To make blue stained glass, cobalt blue (cobalt(II)
4)pigment was mixed with the glass. Other common blue pigments made
from minerals are ultramarine (Na8-10Al
24S2-4), cerulean blue (primarily cobalt (II) stanate: Co
Prussian blue (milori blue: primarily Fe
Natural dyes to colour cloth and tapestries were made from plants.
Woad and true indigo were used to produce indigo dye used to colour
fabrics blue or indigo. Since the 18th century, natural blue dyes have
largely been replaced by synthetic dyes.
Lapis lazuli, mined in
Afghanistan for more than three thousand years,
was used for jewellery and ornaments, and later was crushed and
powdered and used as a pigment. The more it was ground, the lighter
the blue colour became.
Azurite, common in Europe and Asia, is produced by the weathering of
copper ore deposits. It was crushed and powdered and used as a pigment
from ancient times,
Natural ultramarine, made by grinding and purifying lapis lazuli, was
the finest available blue pigment in the
Middle Ages and the
Renaissance. It was extremely expensive, and in Italian Renaissance
art, it was often reserved the robes of the Virgin Mary.
Egyptian blue, the first artificial pigment, created in the third
millennium BC in Ancient Egypt by grinding sand, copper and natron,
and then heating them. It was often used in tomb paintings and
funereal objects to protect the dead in their afterlife.
Ground azurite was often in
Renaissance used as a substitute for the
much more expensive lapis lazuli. It made a rich blue, but was
unstable and could turn dark green over time.
Cerulean was created with copper and cobalt oxide, and used to make a
sky blue colour. Like azurite, it could fade or turn green.
Cobalt has been used for centuries to colour glass and
ceramics; it was used to make the deep blue stained glass windows of
Gothic cathedrals and Chinese porcelain beginning in the T'ang
Dynasty. In 1799 a French chemist, Louis Jacques Thénard, made a
synthetic cobalt blue pigment which became immensely popular with
Indigo dye is made from the woad, Indigofera tinctoria, a plant common
in Asia and Africa but little known in Europe until the 15th century.
Its importation into Europe revolutionised the colour of clothing. It
also became the colour used in blue denim and jeans. Nearly all indigo
dye produced today is synthetic.
Chemical structure of indigo dye, a widely produced blue dye. Blue
jeans consist of 1–3% by weight of this organic compound.
Synthetic ultramarine pigment, invented in 1826, has the same chemical
composition as natural ultramarine. It is more vivid than natural
ultramarine because the particles are smaller and more uniform in
size, and thus distribute the light more evenly.
A new synthetic blue created in the 1930s is phthalocyanine, an
intense colour widely used for making blue ink, dye, and pigment.
Scientific natural standards
Emission spectrum of Cu2+
Electronic spectrum of aqua-ions Cu(H
Why the sky and sea appear blue
Of the colours in the visible spectrum of light, blue has a very short
wavelength, while red has the longest wavelength. When sunlight passes
through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths are scattered more widely
by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and more blue comes to our eyes.
This effect is called Rayleigh scattering, after Lord Rayleigh, the
British physicist who discovered it. It was confirmed by Albert
Einstein in 1911.
Near sunrise and sunset, most of the light we see comes in nearly
tangent to the Earth's surface, so that the light's path through the
atmosphere is so long that much of the blue and even green light is
scattered out, leaving the sun rays and the clouds it illuminates red.
Therefore, when looking at the sunset and sunrise, the colour red is
more perceptible than any of the other colours.
The sea is seen as blue for largely the same reason: the water absorbs
the longer wavelengths of red and reflects and scatters the blue,
which comes to the eye of the viewer. The colour of the sea is also
affected by the colour of the sky, reflected by particles in the
water; and by algae and plant life in the water, which can make it
look green; or by sediment, which can make it look brown.
The farther away an object is, the more blue it often appears to the
eye. For example, mountains in the distance often appear blue. This is
the effect of atmospheric perspective; the farther an object is away
from the viewer, the less contrast there is between the object and its
background colour, which is usually blue. In a painting where
different parts of the composition are blue, green and red, the blue
will appear to be more distant, and the red closer to the viewer. The
cooler a colour is, the more distant it seems.
Blue light is scattered more than other wavelengths by the gases in
the atmosphere, giving the Earth a blue halo when seen from space.
An example of aerial, or atmospheric perspective. Objects become more
blue and lighter in colour the farther they are from the viewer,
because of Rayleigh scattering.
Under the sea, red and other light with longer wavelengths is
absorbed, so white objects appear blue. The deeper you go, the darker
the blue becomes. In the open sea, only about one per cent of light
penetrates to a depth of 200 metres. (See underwater and euphotic
•A blue giant is the largest type of stars. A blue supergiant is
Blue eyes actually contain no blue pigment. The colour is caused by an
effect called Rayleigh scattering, which also makes the sky appear
Blue eyes do not actually contain any blue pigment.
Eye colour is
determined by two factors: the pigmentation of the eye's iris
and the scattering of light by the turbid medium in the stroma of the
iris. In humans, the pigmentation of the iris varies from light
brown to black. The appearance of blue, green, and hazel eyes results
Rayleigh scattering of light in the stroma, an optical effect
similar to what accounts for the blueness of the sky. The
irises of the eyes of people with blue eyes contain less dark melanin
than those of people with brown eyes, which means that they absorb
less short-wavelength blue light, which is instead reflected out to
Eye colour also varies depending on the lighting
conditions, especially for lighter-coloured eyes.
Blue eyes are most common in Ireland, the
Baltic Sea area and Northern
Europe, and are also found in Eastern, Central, and Southern
Blue eyes are also found in parts of Western Asia, most
notably in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. In Estonia, 99% of
people have blue eyes. In Denmark 30 years ago, only 8% of the
population had brown eyes, though through immigration, today that
number is about 11%. In Germany, about 75% have blue eyes.
In the United States, as of 2006, one out of every six people, or
16.6% of the total population, and 22.3% of the white population, have
blue eyes, compared with about half of Americans born in 1900, and a
third of Americans born in 1950.
Blue eyes are becoming less common
among American children. In the US, boys are 3–5 per cent more
likely to have blue eyes than girls.
Lasers emitting in the blue region of the spectrum became widely
available to the public in 2010 with the release of inexpensive
high-powered 445-447 nm laser diode technology. Previously
the blue wavelengths were accessible only through
DPSS which are
comparatively expensive and inefficient, however these technologies
are still widely used by the scientific community for applications
including optogenetics, Raman spectroscopy, and particle image
velocimetry, due to their superior beam quality.
Blue gas lasers
are also still commonly used for holography, DNA sequencing, optical
pumping, and other scientific and medical applications.
In the ancient world
Close-up of the blue, lapis lazuli inlays used for the irises in the
Statue of Ebih-Il, dating to the twenty-fifth century BC, discovered
in the temple of Ishtar at Mari
Blue was a latecomer among colours used in art and decoration, as well
as language and literature. Reds, blacks, browns, and ochres are
found in cave paintings from the Upper
Paleolithic period, but not
Blue was also not used for dyeing fabric until long after red,
ochre, pink and purple. This is probably due to the perennial
difficulty of making good blue dyes and pigments. The earliest
known blue dyes were made from plants – woad in Europe, indigo in
Asia and Africa, while blue pigments were made from minerals, usually
either lapis lazuli or azurite.
Lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone, has been mined in
more than three thousand years, and was exported to all parts of the
ancient world. In Iran and Mesopotamia, it was used to make
jewellery and vessels. In Egypt, it was used for the eyebrows on the
funeral mask of
King Tutankhamun (1341–1323 BC). Importing lapis
lazuli by caravan across the desert from
Afghanistan to Egypt was very
expensive. Beginning in about 2500 BC, the ancient Egyptians began to
produce their own blue pigment known as
Egyptian blue by grinding
silica, lime, copper, and alkalai, and heating it to 800 or
900 °C (1,470 or 1,650 °F). This is considered the first
Egyptian blue was used to paint wood, papyrus
and canvas, and was used to colour a glaze to make faience beads,
inlays, and pots. It was particularly used in funeral statuary and
figurines and in tomb paintings.
Blue was considered a beneficial
colour which would protect the dead against evil in the afterlife.
Blue dye was also used to colour the cloth in which mummies were
In Egypt blue was associated with the sky and with divinity. The
Amun could make his skin blue so that he could fly,
invisible, across the sky.
Blue could also protect against evil; many
people around the Mediterranean still wear a blue amulet, representing
the eye of God, to protect them from misfortune.
Blue glass was
Mesopotamia and Egypt as early as 2500 BC, using the
same copper ingredients as
Egyptian blue pigment. They also added
cobalt, which produced a deeper blue, the same blue produced in the
Middle Ages in the stained glass windows of the cathedrals of
Saint-Denis and Chartres. The
Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon
(604–562 BC) was decorated with deep blue glazed bricks used as a
background for pictures of lions, dragons and aurochs.
The ancient Greeks classified colours by whether they were light or
dark, rather than by their hue. The Greek word for dark blue, kyaneos,
could also mean dark green, violet, black or brown. The ancient Greek
word for a light blue, glaukos, also could mean light green, grey, or
yellow. The Greeks imported indigo dye from India, calling it
indikon. They used
Egyptian blue in the wall paintings of Knossos, in
Crete, (2100 BC). It was not one of the four primary colours for Greek
painting described by
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder (red, yellow, black, and white),
but nonetheless it was used as a background colour behind the friezes
on Greek temples and to colour the beards of Greek statues.
The Romans also imported indigo dye, but blue was the colour of
working class clothing; the nobles and rich wore white, black, red or
Blue was considered the colour of mourning, and the colour of
barbarians. Julius Caesar reported that the Celts and Germans dyed
their faces blue to frighten their enemies, and tinted their hair blue
when they grew old. Nonetheless, the Romans made extensive use of
blue for decoration. According to Vitruvius, they made dark blue
pigment from indigo, and imported
Egyptian blue pigment. The walls of
Roman villas in
Pompeii had frescoes of brilliant blue skies, and blue
pigments were found in the shops of colour merchants. The Romans
had many different words for varieties of blue, including caeruleus,
caesius, glaucus, cyaneus, lividus, venetus, aerius, and ferreus, but
two words, both of foreign origin, became the most enduring; blavus,
from the Germanic word blau, which eventually became bleu or blue; and
azureus, from the Arabic word lazaward, which became azure.
Lapis lazuli pendant from
Mesopotamia (c. 2900 BC).
A lapis lazuli bowl from Iran (End of 3rd, beginning 2nd millennium
A hippo decorated with aquatic plants, made of faience with a blue
glaze, made to resemble lapis lazuli. (2033–1710 BC)
Egyptian blue colour in a tomb painting (c. 1500 BC)
Egyptian faience bowl (c. 1550 and 1450 BC)
a decorated cobalt glass vessel from Ancient Egypt (1450–1350 BC)
Figure of a servant from the tomb of King Seth I (1244–1279 BC). The
figure is made of faience with a blue glaze, designed to resemble
A lion against a blue background from the
Ishtar Gate of ancient
Babylon. (575 BC)
A Roman wall painting of Venus and her son Eros, from
Mural in the bedroom of the villa of Fannius Synestor in Boscoreale,
(50–40 BC) in the Metropolitan Museum.
A painted pottery pot coloured with
Han blue from the
Han Dynasty in
China (206 BC to 220 AD).
A tomb painting from the eastern
Han Dynasty (25–220 AD) in Henan
Byzantine Empire and the
Dark blue was widely used in the decoration of churches in the
Byzantine Empire. In Byzantine art Christ and the
Virgin Mary usually
wore dark blue or purple.
Blue was used as a background colour
representing the sky in the magnificent mosaics which decorated
Islamic world, blue was of secondary importance to green,
believed to be the favourite colour of the Prophet Mohammed. At
certain times in
Moorish Spain and other parts of the
blue was the colour worn by Christians and Jews, because only Muslims
were allowed to wear white and green. Dark blue and turquoise
decorative tiles were widely used to decorate the facades and
interiors of mosques and palaces from Spain to Central Asia. Lapis
lazuli pigment was also used to create the rich blues in Persian
Blue Byzantine mosaic ceiling representing the night sky in the
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy (5th century).
Blue mosaic in the cloak of Christ in the
Hagia Sophia church in
Istanbul (13th century).
Glazed stone-paste bowl from
Persia (12th century).
Decorated page of a
Persia (1373 AD)
Blue tile on the facade of the Friday Mosque in Herat, Afghanistan
Persian miniature from the 16th century.
Decoration in the
Murat III hall of the
Topkapi Palace in Istanbul
Flower-pattern tile from Iznik, Turkey, from the second half of the
During the Middle Ages
In the art and life of Europe during the early Middle Ages, blue
played a minor role. The nobility wore red or purple, while only the
poor wore blue clothing, coloured with poor-quality dyes made from the
Blue played no part in the rich costumes of the clergy or
the architecture or decoration of churches. This changed dramatically
between 1130 and 1140 in Paris, when the
Abbe Suger rebuilt the Saint
Denis Basilica. He installed stained glass windows coloured with
cobalt, which, combined with the light from the red glass, filled the
church with a bluish violet light. The church became the marvel of the
Christian world, and the colour became known as the "bleu de
Saint-Denis". In the years that followed even more elegant blue
stained glass windows were installed in other churches, including at
Chartres Cathedral and
Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
Another important factor in the increased prestige of the colour blue
in the 12th century was the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and a
change in the colours used to depict her clothing. In earlier
centuries her robes had usually been painted in sombre black, grey,
violet, dark green or dark blue. In the 12th century the Roma Catholic
Church dictated that painters in Italy (and the rest of Europe
consequently) to paint the
Virgin Mary with the new most expensive
pigment imported from Asia; ultramarine.
associated with holiness, humility and virtue.
Ultramarine was made from lapis lazuli, from the mines of Badakshan,
in the mountains of Afghanistan, near the source of the
The mines were visited by Marco Polo in about 1271; he reported, "here
is found a high mountain from which they extract the finest and most
beautiful of blues." Ground lapis was used in Byzantine manuscripts as
early as the 6th century, but it was impure and varied greatly in
Ultramarine refined out the impurities through a long and
difficult process, creating a rich and deep blue. It was called bleu
outremer in French and blu oltremare in Italian, since it came from
the other side of the sea. It cost far more than any other colour, and
it became the luxury colour for the Kings and Princes of Europe.
King Louis IX of France, better known as Saint Louis (1214–1270),
became the first king of France to regularly dress in blue. This was
copied by other nobles. Paintings of the mythical
King Arthur began to
show him dressed in blue. The coat of arms of the kings of France
became an azure or light blue shield, sprinkled with golden
fleur-de-lis or lilies.
Blue had come from obscurity to become the
Once blue became the colour of the king, it also became the colour of
the wealthy and powerful in Europe. In the
Middle Ages in France and
to some extent in Italy, the dyeing of blue cloth was subject to
license from the crown or state. In Italy, the dyeing of blue was
assigned to a specific guild, the tintori di guado, and could not be
done by anyone else without severe penalty. The wearing of blue
implied some dignity and some wealth.
Besides ultramarine, several other blues were widely used in the
Middle Ages and later in the Renaissance. Azurite, a form of copper
carbonate, was often used as a substitute for ultramarine. The Romans
used it under the name lapis armenius, or Armenian stone. The British
called it azure of Amayne, or German azure. The Germans themselves
called it bergblau, or mountain stone. It was mined in France,
Hungary, Spain and Germany, and it made a pale blue with a hint of
green, which was ideal for painting skies. It was a favourite
background colour of the German painter Albrecht Dürer.
Another blue often used in the
Middle Ages was called tournesol or
folium. It was made from the plant Crozophora tinctoria, which grew in
the south of France. It made a fine transparent blue valued in
Another common blue pigment was smalt, which was made by grinding blue
cobalt glass into a fine powder. It made a deep violet blue similar to
ultramarine, and was vivid in frescoes, but it lost some of its
brilliance in oil paintings. It became especially popular in the 17th
century, when ultramarine was difficult to obtain. It was employed at
times by Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Van Dyck,
Stained glass windows of the Basilica of Saint Denis (1141–1144).
Notre Dame de la Belle Verrière window, Chartres Cathedral.
Detail of the windows at
The Maesta by
Duccio (1308) showed the
Virgin Mary in a robe painted
Blue became the colour of holiness, virtue and
In the 12th century blue became part of the royal coat of arms of
The Wilton Diptych, made for King Richard II of England, made lavish
use of ultramarine. (About 1400)
The Coronation of King Louis VIII of France in 1223 showed that blue
had become the royal colour. (painted in 1450).
In the European Renaissance
In the Renaissance, a revolution occurred in painting; artists began
to paint the world as it was actually seen, with perspective, depth,
shadows, and light from a single source. Artists had to adapt their
use of blue to the new rules. In medieval paintings, blue was used to
attract the attention of the viewer to the Virgin Mary, and identify
Renaissance paintings, artists tried to create harmonies
between blue and red, lightening the blue with lead white paint and
adding shadows and highlights.
Raphael was a master of this technique,
carefully balancing the reds and the blues so no one colour dominated
Ultramarine was the most prestigious blue of the Renaissance, and
patrons sometimes specified that it be used in paintings they
commissioned. The contract for the Madone des Harpies by Andrea del
Sarto (1514) required that the robe of the
Virgin Mary be coloured
with ultramarine costing "at least five good florins an ounce."
Good ultramarine was more expensive than gold; in 1508 the German
Albrecht Dürer reported in a letter that he had paid twelve
ducats – the equivalent of forty-one grams of gold – for just
thirty grams of ultramarine.
Often painters or clients saved money by using less expensive blues,
such as azurite smalt, or pigments made with indigo, but this
sometimes caused problems.
Pigments made from azurite were less
expensive, but tended to turn dark and green with time. An example is
the robe of the
Virgin Mary in The Madonna Enthroned with Saints by
Raphael in the
Metropolitan Museum in New York. The Virgin Mary's
azurite blue robe has degraded into a greenish-black.
The introduction of oil painting changed the way colours looked and
how they were used.
Ultramarine pigment, for instance, was much darker
when used in oil painting than when used in tempera painting, in
frescoes. To balance their colours,
Renaissance artists like Raphael
added white to lighten the ultramarine. The sombre dark blue robe of
Virgin Mary became a brilliant sky blue.
Titian created his
rich blues by using many thin glazes of paint of different blues and
violets which allowed the light to pass through, which made a complex
and luminous colour, like stained glass. He also used layers of finely
ground or coarsely ground ultramarine, which gave subtle variations to
Giotto was one of the first Italian
Renaissance painters to use
ultramarine, here in the murals of the Arena Chapel in
Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the robes of the Virgin Mary
were painted with ultramarine. This is The Virgin of Humility by Fra
Angelico (about 1430).
Blue fills the picture.
In the Madonna of the Meadow (1506),
Raphael used white to soften the
ultramarine blue of Virgin Mary's robes to balance the red and blue,
and to harmonise with the rest of the picture.
Titian used an ultramarine sky and robes to give depth and brilliance
Bacchus and Ariadne
Bacchus and Ariadne (1520–1523)
In this painting of The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints an
early work by
Raphael in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the blue
cloak of the
Virgin Mary has turned a green-black. It was painted with
Terracotta of The Virgin Adoring the Christ Child, from the
Andrea della Robbia
Andrea della Robbia (1483)
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry was the most important
illuminated manuscript of the 15th century. The blue was the
extravagantly expensive ultramarine.
Blue and white porcelain
In about the 9th century, Chinese artisans abandoned the Han blue
colour they had used for centuries, and began to use cobalt blue, made
with cobalt salts of alumina, to manufacture fine blue and white
porcelain, The plates and vases were shaped, dried, the paint applied
with a brush, covered with a clear glaze, then fired at a high
temperature. Beginning in the 14th century, this type of porcelain was
exported in large quantity to Europe where it inspired a whole style
of art, called Chinoiserie. European courts tried for many years to
imitate Chinese blue and white porcelain, but only succeeded in the
18th century after a missionary brought the secret back from China.
Other famous white and blue patterns appeared in Delft, Meissen,
Staffordshire, and Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Chinese blue and white porcelain from about 1335, made in Jingdezhen,
the porcelain centre of China. Exported to Europe, this porcelain
launched the style of Chinoiserie.
A soft-paste porcelain vase made in Rouen, France, at the end of the
17th century, imitating Chinese blue and white.
Eighteenth century blue and white pottery from Delft, in the
Russian porcelain of the cobalt net pattern, made with cobalt blue
pigment. The Imperial
Porcelain Factory in
Saint Petersburg was
founded in 1744. This pattern, first produced in 1949, was copied
after a design made for Catherine the Great.
War of the blues – indigo versus woad
Johannes Vermeer used natural ultramarine in his paintings, as in his
Girl with a Pearl Earring. The expense was probably borne by his
wealthy patron Pieter van Ruijven.
While blue was an expensive and prestigious colour in European
painting, it became a common colour for clothing during the
Renaissance. The rise of the colour blue in fashion in the 12th and
13th centuries led to a blue dye industry in several cities, notably
Amiens, Toulouse, and Erfurt. They made a dye called pastel from woad,
a plant common in Europe, which had been used to make blue dye by the
Celts and German tribes.
Blue became a colour worn by domestics and
artisans, not just nobles. In 1570, when Pope
Pius V listed the
colours that could be used for ecclesiastical dress and for altar
decoration, he excluded blue, because he considered it too common.
The process of making blue with woad was long and noxious – it
involved soaking the leaves of the plant for from three days to a week
in human urine, ideally urine from men who had been drinking a great
deal of alcohol, which was said to improve the colour. The fabric was
then soaked for a day in the resulting mixture, then put out in the
sun, where as it dried it turned blue.
The pastel industry was threatened in the 15th century by the arrival
from India of the same dye (indigo), obtained from a shrub widely
grown in Asia. The Asian indigo dye precursors is more readily
obtained. In 1498,
Vasco de Gama
Vasco de Gama opened a trade route to import indigo
from India to Europe. In India, the indigo leaves were soaked in
water, fermented, pressed into cakes, dried into bricks, then carried
to the ports London, Marseille, Genoa, and Bruges. Later, in the 17th
century, the British, Spanish, and Dutch established indigo
plantations in Jamaica, South Carolina, the Virgin Islands and South
America, and began to import American indigo to Europe.
The countries with large and prosperous pastel industries tried to
block the use of indigo. The German government outlawed the use of
indigo in 1577, describing it as a "pernicious, deceitful and
corrosive substance, the Devil's dye." In France, Henry IV, in
an edict of 1609, forbade under pain of death the use of "the false
and pernicious Indian drug". It was forbidden in England until
1611, when British traders established their own indigo industry in
India and began to import it into Europe.
The efforts to block indigo were in vain; the quality of indigo blue
was too high and the price too low for pastel made from woad to
compete. In 1737 both the French and German governments finally
allowed the use of indigo. This ruined the dye industries in Toulouse
and the other cities that produced pastel, but created a thriving new
indigo commerce to seaports such as Bordeaux, Nantes and
Another war of the blues took place at the end of the 19th century,
between indigo and synthetic indigo, discovered in 1868 by the German
chemist Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer. The German chemical
firm BASF put the new dye on the market in 1897, in direct competition
with the British-run indigo industry in India, which produced most of
the world's indigo. In 1897 Britain sold ten thousand tons of natural
indigo on the world market, while BASF sold six hundred tons of
synthetic indigo. The British industry cut prices and reduced the
salaries of its workers, but it was unable to compete; the synthetic
indigo was more pure, made a more lasting blue, and was not dependent
upon good or bad harvests. In 1911, India sold only 660 tons of
natural indigo, while BASF sold 22,000 tons of synthetic indigo. In
2002, more than 38,000 tons of synthetic indigo was produced, often
for the production of blue jeans.
Isatis tinctoria, or woad, was the main source of blue dye in Europe
from ancient times until the arrival of indigo from Asia and America.
It was processed into a paste called pastel.
A woad mill in Thuringia, in Germany, in 1752. The woad industry was
already on its way to extinction, unable to compete with indigo blue.
A Dutch tapestry from 1495 to 1505. The blue colour comes from woad.
Indigofera tinctoria, a tropical shrub, is the main source of indigo
dye. The chemical composition of indigo dye is the same as that of
woad, but the colour is more intense.
Cakes of indigo. The leaf has been soaked in water, fermented, mixed
with lye or another base, then pressed into cakes and dried, ready for
New York City
New York City police officers on Times Square (2010).
In the 17th century, Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, was
one of the first rulers to give his army blue uniforms. The reasons
were economic; the German states were trying to protect their pastel
dye industry against competition from imported indigo dye. When
Brandenburg became the Kingdom of
Prussia in 1701, the uniform colour
was adopted by the Prussian army. Most German soldiers wore dark blue
uniforms until the First World War, with the exception of the
Bavarians, who wore light blue.
Thanks in part to the availability of indigo dye, the 18th century saw
the widespread use of blue military uniforms. Prior to 1748, British
naval officers simply wore upper-class civilian clothing and wigs. In
1748, the British uniform for naval officers was officially
established as an embroidered coat of the colour then called marine
blue, now known as navy blue. When the
Continental Navy of the
United States was created in 1775, it largely copied the British
uniform and colour.
In the late 18th century, the blue uniform became a symbol of liberty
and revolution. In October 1774, even before the United States
declared its independence,
George Mason and one hundred Virginia
George Washington organised a voluntary militia unit
(the Fairfax County Independent Company of Volunteers) and elected
Washington the honorary commander. For their uniforms they chose blue
and buff, the colours of the Whig Party, the opposition party in
England, whose policies were supported by
George Washington and many
other patriots in the American colonies.
Continental Army was established in 1775 at the outbreak of
the American Revolution, the first
Continental Congress declared that
the official uniform colour would be brown, but this was not popular
with many militias, whose officers were already wearing blue. In 1778
the Congress asked
George Washington to design a new uniform, and in
Washington made the official colour of all uniforms blue and
Blue continued to be the colour of the field uniform of the US
Army until 1902, and is still the colour of the dress uniform.
In France the Gardes Françaises, the elite regiment which protected
Louis XVI, wore dark blue uniforms with red trim. In 1789, the
soldiers gradually changed their allegiance from the king to the
people, and they played a leading role in the storming of the
Bastille. After the fall of Bastille, a new armed force, the Garde
Nationale, was formed under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette,
who had served with
George Washington in America. Lafayette gave the
Garde Nationale dark blue uniforms similar to those of the Continental
Blue became the colour of the revolutionary armies, opposed to
the white uniforms of the Royalists and the Austrians.
Napoleon Bonaparte abandoned many of the doctrines of the French
Revolution but he kept blue as the uniform colour for his army,
although he had great difficulty obtaining the blue dye, since the
British controlled the seas and blocked the importation of indigo to
France. Napoleon was forced to dye uniforms with woad, which had an
inferior blue colour. The French army wore a dark blue uniform
coat with red trousers until 1915, when it was found to be a too
visible target on the battlefields of World War I. It was replaced
with uniforms of a light blue-grey colour called horizon blue.
Blue was the colour of liberty and revolution in the 18th century, but
in the 19th it increasingly became the colour of government authority,
the uniform colour of policemen and other public servants. It was
considered serious and authoritative, without being menacing. In 1829,
Robert Peel created the first London Metropolitan Police, he made
the colour of the uniform jacket a dark, almost black blue, to make
the policemen look different from soldiers, who until then had
patrolled the streets. The traditional blue jacket with silver buttons
of the London "bobbie" was not abandoned until the mid-1990s, when it
was replaced by a light blue shirt and a jumper or sweater of the
colour officially known as
New York City
New York City Police Department, modelled after the London
Metropolitan Police, was created in 1844, and in 1853, they were
officially given a navy blue uniform, the colour they wear today.
Navy blue is one of the most popular school uniform colors, with the
Toronto Catholic District School Board adopting a dress code policy
which requires students system-wide to wear white tops and navy blue
Elector Frederic William of Brandenburg gave his soldiers blue
uniforms (engraving from 1698). When Brandenburg became the Kingdom of
Prussia in 1701, blue became the uniform colour of the Prussian Army.
Uniform of a lieutenant in the
Royal Navy (1777). Marine blue became
the official colour of the
Royal Navy uniform coat in 1748.
George Washington chose blue and buff as the colours of the
Continental Army uniform. They were the colours of the English Whig
Marquis de Lafayette
Marquis de Lafayette in the uniform of the
Garde Nationale during
French Revolution (1790).
The cadets of the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, the French
military academy, still wear the blue and red uniform of the French
army before 1915.
In 1853, New York policemen and firemen were officially outfitted in
navy blue uniforms.
Metropolitan Police officers in Soho, London (2007).
Search for the perfect blue
During the 17th and 18th centuries, chemists in Europe tried to
discover a way to create synthetic blue pigments, avoiding the expense
of importing and grinding lapis lazuli, azurite and other minerals.
The Egyptians had created a synthetic colour, Egyptian blue, three
thousand years BC, but the formula had been lost. The Chinese had also
created synthetic pigments, but the formula was not known in the west.
In 1709 a German druggist and pigment maker named Johann Jacob
Diesbach accidentally discovered a new blue while experimenting with
potassium and iron sulphides. The new colour was first called Berlin
blue, but later became known as Prussian blue. By 1710 it was being
used by the French painter Antoine Watteau, and later his successor
Nicolas Lancret. It became immensely popular for the manufacture of
wallpaper, and in the 19th century was widely used by French
Beginning in the 1820s,
Prussian blue was imported into Japan through
the port of Nagasaki. It was called bero-ai, or Berlin blue, and it
became popular because it did not fade like traditional Japanese blue
pigment, ai-gami, made from the dayflower.
Prussian blue was used by
both Hokusai, in his famous wave paintings, and Hiroshige.
In 1824 the
Societé pour l'Encouragement d'Industrie
Societé pour l'Encouragement d'Industrie in France
offered a prize for the invention of an artificial ultramarine which
could rival the natural colour made from lapis lazuli. The prize was
won in 1826 by a chemist named Jean Baptiste Guimet, but he refused to
reveal the formula of his colour. In 1828, another scientist,
Christian Gmelin then a professor of chemistry in Tübingen, found the
process and published his formula. This was the beginning of new
industry to manufacture artificial ultramarine, which eventually
almost completely replaced the natural product.
In 1878 a German chemist named a. Von Baeyer discovered a synthetic
substitute for indigotine, the active ingredient of indigo. This
product gradually replaced natural indigo, and after the end of the
First World War, it brought an end to the trade of indigo from the
East and West Indies.
In 1901 a new synthetic blue dye, called Indanthrone blue, was
invented, which had even greater resistance to fading during washing
or in the sun. This dye gradually replaced artificial indigo, whose
production ceased in about 1970. Today almost all blue clothing is
dyed with an indanthrone blue.
The 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist
Hokusai used Prussian blue,
a synthetic colour imported from Europe, in his wave paintings, such
as in The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
A synthetic indigo dye factory in Germany in 1890. The manufacture of
this dye ended the trade in indigo from America and India that had
begun in the 15th century.
The invention of new synthetic pigments in the 18th and 19th centuries
considerably brightened and expanded the palette of painters. J.M.W.
Turner experimented with the new cobalt blue, and of the twenty
colours most used by the Impressionists, twelve were new and synthetic
colours, including cobalt blue, ultramarine and cerulean blue.
Another important influence on painting in the 19th century was the
theory of complementary colours, developed by the French chemist
Michel Eugene Chevreul in 1828 and published in 1839. He demonstrated
that placing complementary colours, such as blue and yellow-orange or
ultramarine and yellow, next to each other heightened the intensity of
each colour "to the apogee of their tonality." In 1879 an American
physicist, Ogden Rood, published a book charting the complementary
colours of each colour in the spectrum. This principle of painting
was used by
Claude Monet in his Impression – Sunrise – Fog (1872),
where he put a vivid blue next to a bright orange sun, (1872) and in
Régate à Argenteuil (1872), where he painted an orange sun against
blue water. The colours brighten each other. Renoir used the same
contrast of cobalt blue water and an orange sun in Canotage sur la
Seine (1879–1880). Both Monet and Renoir liked to use pure colours,
without any blending.
Monet and the impressionists were among the first to observe that
shadows were full of colour. In his La Gare Saint-Lazare, the grey
smoke, vapour and dark shadows are actually composed of mixtures of
bright pigment, including cobalt blue, cerulean blue, synthetic
ultramarine, emerald green, Guillet green, chrome yellow, vermilion
and ecarlate red.
Blue was a favourite colour of the impressionist
painters, who used it not just to depict nature but to create moods,
feelings and atmospheres.
Cobalt blue, a pigment of cobalt
oxide-aluminium oxide, was a favourite of
Auguste Renoir and Vincent
van Gogh. It was similar to smalt, a pigment used for centuries to
make blue glass, but it was much improved by the French chemist Louis
Jacques Thénard, who introduced it in 1802. It was very stable but
extremely expensive. Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, "'Cobalt
[blue] is a divine colour and there is nothing so beautiful for
putting atmosphere around things ..."
Van Gogh described to his brother Theo how he composed a sky: "The
dark blue sky is spotted with clouds of an even darker blue than the
fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a lighter blue, like
the bluish white of the Milky Way ... the sea was very dark
ultramarine, the shore a sort of violet and of light red as I see it,
and on the dunes, a few bushes of prussian blue."
Claude Monet used several recently invented colours in his Gare
Saint-Lazare (1877). He used cobalt blue, invented in 1807, cerulean
blue invented in 1860, and French ultramarine, first made in 1828.
In Régate à Argenteuil (1872), Monet used two complementary colours
together — blue and orange — to brighten the effect of both
The Umbrellas, by Pierre Auguste-Renoir. (1881 and 1885). Renoir used
cobalt blue for right side of the picture, but used the new synthetic
ultramarine introduced in the 1870s, when he added two figures to left
of the picture a few years later.
In Vincent van Gogh's Irises, the blue irises are placed against their
complementary colour, yellow-orange.
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888).
Blue used to create a
mood or atmosphere. A cobalt blue sky, and cobalt or ultramarine
Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds (July 1890), one of the last paintings
by Vincent van Gogh. He wrote of cobalt blue, "there is nothing so
beautiful for putting atmosphere around things."
Blue had first become the high fashion colour of the wealthy and
powerful in Europe in the 13th century, when it was worn by Louis IX
of France, better known as Saint Louis (1214-1270). Wearing blue
implied dignity and wealth, and blue clothing was restricted to the
nobility. However, blue was replaced by black as the power colour
in the 14th century, when European princes, and then merchants and
bankers, wanted to show their seriousness, dignity and devoutness (see
Blue gradually returned to court fashion in the 17th century, as part
of a palette of peacock-bright colours shown off in extremely
elaborate costumes. The modern blue business suit has its roots in
England in the middle of the 17th century. Following the London plague
of 1665 and the
London fire of 1666, King Charles II of England
ordered that his courtiers wear simple coats, waistcoats and breeches,
and the palette of colours became blue, grey, white and buff. Widely
imitated, this style of men's fashion became almost a uniform of the
London merchant class and the English country gentleman.
During the American Revolution, the leader of the Whig Party in
England, Charles James Fox, wore a blue coat and buff waistcoat and
breeches, the colours of the Whig Party and of the uniform of George
Washington, whose principles he supported. The men's suit followed the
basic form of the military uniforms of the time, particularly the
uniforms of the cavalry.
In the early 19th century, during the Regency of the future King
George IV, the blue suit was revolutionised by a courtier named George
Beau Brummel. Brummel created a suit that closely fitted the human
form. The new style had a long tail coat cut to fit the body and long
tight trousers to replace the knee-length breeches and stockings of
the previous century. He used plain colours, such as blue and grey, to
concentrate attention on the form of the body, not the clothes.
Brummel observed, "If people turn to look at you in the street, you
are not well dressed." This fashion was adopted by the Prince
Regent, then by London society and the upper classes. Originally the
coat and trousers were different colours, but in the 19th century the
suit of a single colour became fashionable. By the late 19th century
the black suit had become the uniform of businessmen in England and
America. In the 20th century, the black suit was largely replaced by
the dark blue or grey suit.
Louis IX of France
Louis IX of France (on the right, with Pope Innocent) was the
first European king to wear blue. It quickly became the colour of the
nobles and wealthy.
Joseph Leeson, later 1st Earl of Milltown, in the typical dress of the
English country gentleman in the 1730s.
Charles James Fox, a leader of the Whig Party in England, wore a blue
suit in Parliament in support of
George Washington and the American
Revolution. Portrait by
Joshua Reynolds (1782).
Beau Brummel introduced the ancestor of the modern blue suit, shaped
to the body. (1805).
Man's suit, 1826. Dark blue suits were still rare; this one is
blue-green or teal.
Man's blue suit in the 1870s, Paris. Painting by Caillebotte.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy popularised the blue two-button business
suit, less formal than the suits of his predecessors. (1961)
In the 21st century, the dark blue business suit is the most common
style worn by world leaders, seen here at the 2011
G-20 Summit in
In the 20th and 21st century
At the beginning of the 20th century, many artists recognised the
emotional power of blue, and made it the central element of paintings.
Blue Period (1901–1904)
Pablo Picasso used blue and
green, with hardly any warm colours, to create a melancholy mood. In
Russia, the symbolist painter
Pavel Kuznetsov and the
Blue Rose art
group (1906–1908) used blue to create a fantastic and exotic
atmosphere. In Germany,
Wassily Kandinsky and other Russian émigrés
formed the art group called
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter (The
Blue Rider), and
used blue to symbolise spirituality and eternity. Henri Matisse
used intense blues to express the emotions he wanted viewers to feel.
Matisse wrote, "A certain blue penetrates your soul."
In the art of the second half of the 20th century, painters of the
abstract expressionist movement began to use blue and other colours in
pure form, without any attempt to represent anything, to inspire ideas
and emotions. Painter
Mark Rothko observed that colour was "only an
instrument;" his interest was "in expressing human emotions tragedy,
ecstasy, doom, and so on."
In fashion blue, particularly dark blue, was seen as a colour which
was serious but not grim. In the mid-20th century, blue passed black
as the most common colour of men's business suits, the costume usually
worn by political and business leaders. Public opinion polls in the
United States and Europe showed that blue was the favourite colour of
over fifty per cent of respondents.
Green was far behind with twenty
per cent, while white and red received about eight per cent each.
In 1873 a German immigrant in San Francisco, Levi Strauss, invented a
sturdy kind of work trousers, made of denim fabric and coloured with
indigo dye, called blue jeans. In 1935, they were raised to the level
of high fashion by Vogue magazine. Beginning in the 1950s, they became
an essential part of uniform of young people in the United States,
Europe, and around the world.
Blue was also seen as a colour which was authoritative without being
threatening. Following the Second World War, blue was adopted as the
colour of important international organisations, including the United
Nations, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the European Union, and NATO.
United Nations peacekeepers wear blue helmets to stress their
Blue is used by the
NATO Military Symbols for Land
Based Systems to denote friendly forces, hence the term "blue on blue"
for friendly fire, and
Blue Force Tracking
Blue Force Tracking for location of friendly
People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army of
China (formerly known as the
Red Army") uses the term "
Blue Army" to refer to hostile forces
The 20th century saw the invention of new ways of creating blue, such
as chemiluminescence, making blue light through a chemical reaction.
In the 20th century, it also became possible to own your own colour of
blue. The French artist Yves Klein, with the help of a French paint
dealer, created a specific blue called International Klein blue, which
he patented. It was made of ultramarine combined with a resin called
Rhodopa, which gave it a particularly brilliant colour. The baseball
team the Los Angeles Dodgers developed its own blue, called Dodger
blue, and several American universities invented new blues for their
With the dawn of the World Wide Web, blue has become the standard
colour for hyperlinks in graphic browsers (though in most browsers
links turn purple if you visit their target), to make their presence
within text obvious to readers.
Pablo Picasso used blue as the colour of
melancholy, as in The Old Guitarist.
The Russian avant-garde painter
Pavel Kuznetsov and his group, the
Blue Rose, used blue to symbolise fantasy and exoticism. This is In
the Steppe – Mirage (1911).
Blue Rider (1903), by Wassily Kandinsky, For Kandinsky, blue was
the colour of spirituality: the darker the blue, the more it awakened
human desire for the eternal.
The Conversation (1908–1912) by
Henri Matisse used blue to express
the emotions he wanted the viewer to feel.
Blue jeans, made of denim coloured with indigo dye, patented by Levi
Strauss in 1873, became an essential part of the wardrobe of young
people beginning in the 1950s.
Blue is the colour of
United Nations peacekeepers, known as Blue
Vivid blues can be created by chemical reactions, called
chemiluminescence. This is luminol, a chemical used in crime scene
Luminol glows blue when it contacts even a tiny trace
Blue neon lighting, first used in commercial advertising, is now used
in works of art. This is Zwei Pferde für Münster (Two horses for
Münster), a neon sculpture by Stephan Huber (2002), in Munster,
The Story Bridge in
Brisbane, Australia illuminated in blue light for
ovarian cancer awareness.
In world culture
In the English language, blue often represents the human emotion of
sadness, for example, "He was feeling blue".
In German, to be "blue" (blau sein) is to be drunk. This derives from
the ancient use of urine, particularly the urine of men who had been
drinking alcohol in dyeing cloth blue with woad or indigo. It may
also be in relation to rain, which is usually regarded as a trigger of
Blue can sometimes represent happiness and optimism in popular
songs, usually referring to blue skies.
In German, a person who regularly looks upon the world with a blue eye
is a person who is rather naive.
Blue is commonly used in the Western Hemisphere to symbolise boys, in
contrast to pink used for girls. In the early 1900s, blue was the
colour for girls, since it had traditionally been the colour of the
Virgin Mary in Western Art, while pink was for boys (as it was akin to
the colour red, considered a masculine colour).
In China, the colour blue is commonly associated with torment, ghosts,
and death. In a traditional Chinese opera, a character with a face
powdered blue is a villain.
In Turkey and Central Asia, blue is the colour of mourning.
The men of the
Tuareg people in North Africa wear a blue turban called
a tagelmust, which protects them from the sun and wind-blown sand of
the Sahara desert. It is coloured with indigo. Instead of using dye,
which uses precious water, the tagelmust is coloured by pounding it
with powdered indigo. The blue colour transfers to the skin, where it
is seen as a sign of nobility and affluence. Early visitors called
them the "
Blue Men" of the Sahara.
In the culture of the
Hopi people of the American southwest, blue
symbolised the west, which was seen as the house of death. A dream
about a person carrying a blue feather was considered a very bad
In Thailand, blue is associated with Friday on the Thai solar
calendar. Anyone may wear blue on Fridays and anyone born on a Friday
may adopt blue as their colour.
A man of the
Tuareg people of North Africa wears a tagelmust or turban
dyed with indigo. The indigo stains their skin blue; they were known
by early visitors as "the blue men" of the desert.
As a national and international colour
Various shades of blue are used as the national colours for many
Azure, a light blue, is the national colour of Italy (from the livery
colour of the former reigning family, the House of Savoy). National
sport clubs are known as the Azzurri.
Blue and white are the national colours of Scotland, Argentina, El
Salvador, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Micronesia,
Nicaragua and Somalia, are the ancient national colours of Portugal
and are the colours of the United Nations.
Blue, white and yellow are the national colours of Bosnia and
Kosovo and Uruguay.
Blue, white and green are the national colours of Sierra Leone.
Blue, white and black are the national colours of Estonia.
Blue and yellow are the national colours of Barbados, Kazakhstan,
Palau, Sweden, and Ukraine.
Blue, yellow and green are the national colours of Brazil, Gabon, and
Blue, yellow and red are the national colours of Chad, Colombia,
Ecuador, Moldova, Romania, and Venezuela.
Blue and red are the national colours of
Haiti and Liechtenstein.
Blue, red and white are the national colours of Australia, Cambodia,
Costa Rica, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, the Dominican
Republic, France, Iceland, North Korea, Laos, Liberia, Luxembourg,
Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto
Rico, Russia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, the United
Kingdom, and the United States.
Blue, called St. Patrick's blue, is a traditional colour of Ireland,
and appears on the Arms of Ireland.
Main article: Political colour
In the Byzantine Empire, the
Blues and the Greens were the most
prominent political factions in the capital. They took their names
from the colours of the two most popular chariot racing teams at the
Hippodrome of Constantinople.
The word blue was used in England the 17th century as a disparaging
reference to rigid moral codes and those who observed them,
particularly in blue-stocking, a reference to Oliver Cromwell's
supporters in the parliament of 1653.
In the middle of the 18th century, blue was the colour of
then the opposition party in England, Scotland and Ireland, which
supported the British monarch and power of the landed aristocracy,
while the ruling Whigs had orange as their colour. Flags of the two
colours are seen over a polling station in the series of prints by
William Hogarth called Humours of an election, made in 1754–55. Blue
remains the colour of the Conservative Party of the UK today.
By the time of the American Revolution, The Tories were in power and
blue and buff had become the colours of the opposition Whigs. They
were the subject of a famous toast to Whig politicians by Mrs. Crewe
in 1784; "Buff and blue and all of you." They also became the colours
of the American patriots in the American Revolution, who had strong
Whig sympathies, and of the uniforms of
Continental Army led by George
French Revolution and the revolt in the Vendée that
followed, blue was the colour worn by the soldiers of the
Revolutionary government, while the royalists wore white.
Breton blues were members of a liberal, anti-clerical political
Brittany in the late 19th century.
The blueshirts were members of an extreme right paramilitary
organisation active in Ireland during the 1930s.
Blue is associated with numerous centre-right liberal political
parties in Europe, including the People's Party for Freedom and
Democracy (Netherlands), the Reformist Movement and Open VLD
(Belgium), the Democratic Party (Luxembourg), Liberal Party (Denmark)
and Liberal People's Party (Sweden).
Blue is the colour of the Conservative Party in Britain and
Conservative Party of Canada.
In the United States, television commentators use the term "blue
states" for those states which traditionally vote for the Democratic
Party in presidential elections, and "red states" for those which vote
for the Republican Party.
In Québec Province of Canada, the
Blues are those who support
sovereignty for Quebec, as opposed to the Federalists. It is the
colour of the Parti québécois and the Parti libéral du Québec.
Blue is the colour of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico.
In Brazil, blue states are the ones in which the Social Democratic
Party has the majority, in opposition to the Workers' Party, usually
represented by red.
A blue law is a type of law, typically found in the United States and
Canada, designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the
observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, and a restriction on
Blue House is the residence of the President of South Korea.
An illustration by
William Hogarth from 1854 shows a polling station
with the blue flag of the
Tory party and the orange flag of the Whigs.
The blue necktie of British Prime Minister
David Cameron represents
his Conservative Party.
A map of the US showing the blue states, which voted for the
Democratic candidate in all the last four Presidential elections, and
the red states, which voted for the Republican.
Blue is associated with Christianity in general and
particular, especially with the figure of the Virgin
Blue in Hinduism: Many of the gods are depicted as having
blue-coloured skin, particularly those associated with Vishnu, who is
said to be the preserver of the world and thus intimately connected to
Krishna and Ram, Vishnu's avatars, are usually blue. Shiva, the
destroyer, is also depicted in light blue tones and is called neela
kantha, or blue-throated, for having swallowed poison in an attempt to
turn the tide of a battle between the gods and demons in the gods'
Blue is used to symbolically represent the fifth, throat,
Blue in Judaism: In the Torah, the
Israelites were commanded to
put fringes, tzitzit, on the corners of their garments, and to weave
within these fringes a "twisted thread of blue (tekhelet)". In
ancient days, this blue thread was made from a dye extracted from a
Mediterranean snail called the hilazon.
Maimonides claimed that this
blue was the colour of "the clear noonday sky"; Rashi, the colour of
the evening sky. According to several rabbinic sages, blue is the
colour of God's Glory. Staring at this colour aids in mediation,
bringing us a glimpse of the "pavement of sapphire, like the very sky
for purity", which is a likeness of the Throne of God. (The
Hebrew word for glory.) Many items in the Mishkan, the portable
sanctuary in the wilderness, such as the menorah, many of the vessels,
and the Ark of the Covenant, were covered with blue cloth when
transported from place to place.
Blue stripes on a traditional
Jewish tallit. The blue stripes are also
featured in the flag of Israel.
Vishnu, the supreme god of Hinduism, is often portrayed as being blue,
or more precisely having skin the colour of rain-filled clouds.
In Catholicism, blue became the traditional colour of the robes of the
Virgin Mary in the 13th century.
The Bhaisajyaguru, or "Medicine Master of Lapis Lazuli Light", is the
Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. He traditionally
holds a lapis lazuli jar of medicine.
Islamic World, blue and turquoise tile traditionally decorates
the facades and exteriors of mosques and other religious buildings.
This mosque is in Isfahan, Iran.
See also: List of historical sources for pink and blue as gender
This restroom sign on an
All Nippon Airways
All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-300 uses blue
for the male gender
Blue was first used as a gender signifier just prior to World War I
(for either girls or boys), and first established as a male gender
signifier in the 1940s.
The blues is a popular musical form created in the United States in
the 19th century by
African-American musicians, based on African
musical roots. It usually expresses sadness and melancholy.
A blue note is a musical note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch
than the major scale for expressive purposes, giving it a slightly
melancholy sound. It is frequently used in jazz and the blues.
Bluegrass is a subgenre of American country music, born in Kentucky
and the mountains of Appalachia. It has its roots in the traditional
folk music of the Scottish, and Irish.
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this
section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material
may be challenged and removed. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
In many countries, blue is often used as a colour for guide signs on
highways. In the
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices used in the
United States, as well as in other countries with MUTCD-inspired
signage, blue is often used to indicate motorist services.
Many bus and rail systems around the world that colour code rail lines
typically include a
The colour blue has also been used extensively by several airlines.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines has used the colour blue extensively for advertising
and on its aircraft for many years.
JetBlue is an American low-cost airline.
Associations and sayings
True blue is an expression in the United States which means faithful
In Britain, a bride in a wedding is encouraged to wear "Something old,
something new, something borrowed, something blue," as a sign of
loyalty and faithfulness. A blue sapphire engagement ring is also
considered a symbol of fidelity.
Blue is often associated with excellence, distinction and high
performance. The Queen of the United Kingdom and the Chancellor of
Germany often wear a blue sash at formal occasions. In the United
States, the blue ribbon is usually the highest award in expositions
and county fairs. The
Blue Riband was a trophy and flag given to the
fastest transatlantic steamships in the 19th and 20th century. A
blue-ribbon panel is a group of top-level experts selected to examine
A blue chip stock is a stock in a company with a reputation for
quality and reliability in good times and bad. The term was invented
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange in 1923 or 1924, and comes from poker,
where the highest value chips are blue.
Someone with blue blood is a member of the nobility. The term comes
from the Spanish sangre azul, and is said to refer to the pale skin
and prominent blue veins of Spanish nobles.
Blue is also associated with labour and the working class. It is the
common colour of overalls blue jeans and other working costumes. In
the United States "blue collar" workers refers to those who, in either
skilled or unskilled jobs, work with their hands and do not wear
business suits ("white collar" workers).
Blue is traditionally associated with the sea and the sky, with
infinity and distance. The uniforms of sailors are usually dark blue,
those of air forces lighter blue. The expression "The wild blue
yonder" in the official song of the U.S. Air Force refers to the sky.
Blue is associated with cold water taps which are traditionally marked
Bluestocking was an unflattering expression in the 18th century for
upper-class women who cared about culture and intellectual life and
disregarded fashion. It originally referred to men and women who wore
plain blue wool stockings instead of the black silk stockings worn in
Blue is often associated with melancholy – having the "blues".
In English-speaking countries, the colour blue is sometimes associated
with the risqué, for example "blue comedy", "blue movie" (a euphemism
for a pornographic film) or "turning the air blue" (an idiom referring
to profuse swearing).
The color blue is typically associated with autism and the charity
Autism Speaks. However, due to controversy surrounding attitudes which
the organization promotes pertaining to the disorder, a new, much
smaller movement exists to associate autism with the color red.
Madame Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV of France, wore blue
myosotis, or forget-me-not flowers in her hair and on her gowns as a
symbol of faithfulness to the king.
In rinkball a blue ball is used
Many sporting teams make blue their official colour, or use it as
detail on kit of a different colour. In addition, the colour is
present on the logos of many sports associations. Along with red, blue
is the most commonly used non-white colours for teams.
The blues of antiquity
In the late Roman Empire, during the time of Caligula,
Nero and the
emperors who followed, the
Blues were a popular chariot racing team
which competed in the
Circus Maximus in Rome against the Greens, the
Reds and Whites.
In the Byzantine Empire, The
Blues and Greens were the two most
popular chariot racing teams which competed in the Hippodrome of
Constantinople. Each was connected with a powerful political faction,
and disputes between the
Blue supporters often became
violent. After one competition in 532 AD, during the reign of the
Emperor Justinian, riots between the two factions broke out, during
which the cathedral and much of the centre of Constantinople were
burned, and more than thirty thousand people were killed. (See
In international association football, blue is a common colour on
kits, as a majority of nations wear the colours of their national
flag. A notable exception is four-time
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup winners Italy,
who wear a blue kit based on the Azzuro Savoia (
Savoy blue) of the
House of Savoy
House of Savoy which unified the Italian states. The team
themselves are known as Gli Azzurri (the Blues). Another World Cup
winning nation with a blue shirt is France, who are known as Les Bleus
(the Blues). Two neighbouring countries with two World Cup victories
each, Argentina and Uruguay wear a light blue shirt, the former with
white stripes. Uruguay are known as the La Celeste, Spanish for 'the
sky blue one', while Argentina are known as Los Albicelestes, Spanish
for 'the sky blue and whites'.
Blue features on the logo of football's governing body FIFA, as well
as featuring highly in the design of their website. The European
governing body of football, UEFA, uses two tones of blue to create a
map of Europe in the centre of their logo. The Asian Football
Oceania Football Confederation
Oceania Football Confederation and
governing body of football in North and Central America and the
Caribbean) use blue text on their logos.
North American sporting leagues
In Major League Baseball, the premier baseball league in the United
States and Canada, blue is one of the three colours, along with white
and red, on the league's official logo. A team from Toronto, Ontario
are nicknamed the
Blue Jays. Seventeen other teams either regularly
feature blue hats or utilise the colour in their uniforms.
Basketball Association, the premier basketball league in
the United States and Canada, also has blue as one of the colours on
their logo, along with red and white also, as did its female
equivalent, the WNBA, until March 28, 2011, when the latter adopted an
orange and white logo. Former NBA player Theodore Edwards was
nicknamed "Blue". Fifteen NBA teams feature the colour in their
The National Football League, the premier
American football league in
the United States, also uses blue as one of three colours, along with
white and red, on their official logo. Thirteen NFL teams prominently
feature the colour .
The National Hockey League, the premier
Ice hockey league in Canada
and the United States, uses blue on its official logo.
Blue is the
main colour of many teams in the league: the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus
Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, New York Rangers,
St. Louis Blues,
Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver
Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets.
The Italian national football team wear blue in honour of the royal
House of Savoy
House of Savoy which unified the country.
Blue Flag (other)
Blue movie (other)
Blue Screen of Death
Blue (university sport)
Distinguishing "blue" from "green" in language
List of colours
Notes and citations
Color Module Level 3". w3.org. Archived from the original on
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – Histoire d'une couleur
^ a b Heller 2009, p. 24.
^ Heller 2009, p. 22.
^ Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, (1970).
^ Friar, Stephen, ed. (1987). A New Dictionary of Heraldry. London:
Alphabooks/A&C Black. pp. 40, 343.
^ Arthur C. Hardy and Fred H. Perrin. The Principles of Optics.
McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York. 1932.
^ "Glossary Term:
Color wheel". Sanford-artedventures.com. Archived
from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
^ "Why is the sky Blue?". ucr.edu. Archived from the original on
^ "Human color vision and the unsaturated blue color of the daytime
sky Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine.", Glenn S. Smith,
American Journal of Physics, Volume 73, Issue 7, pp. 590–597
^ Anne Marie Helmenstine. "Why Is the Ocean Blue?". About.com
Education. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la coulour (2009), p. 14
^ Wielgus AR, Sarna T (2005). "
Melanin in human irides of different
color and age of donors".
Pigment Cell Res. 18 (6): 454–64.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-0749.2005.00268.x. PMID 16280011.
^ Prota G, Hu DN, Vincensi MR, McCormick SA, Napolitano A (1998).
"Characterization of melanins in human irides and cultured uveal
melanocytes from eyes of different colors". Exp. Eye Res. 67 (3):
293–99. doi:10.1006/exer.1998.0518. PMID 9778410.
^ a b Fox, Denis Llewellyn (1979). Biochromy: Natural Coloration of
Living Things. University of California Press. p. 9.
ISBN 0-520-03699-9. Archived from the original on
^ Mason, Clyde W. (1924). "
Blue Eyes". Journal of Physical Chemistry.
28 (5): 498–501. doi:10.1021/j150239a007.
^ a b Douglas Belkin (October 17, 2006). "Don't it make my blue eyes
brown Americans are seeing a dramatic color change". The Boston Globe.
Archived from the original on February 23, 2012.
^ "Pigmentation, the Pilous System, and Morphology of the Soft Parts".
altervista.org. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
^ statement by Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and
Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen
^ a b Weise, Elizabeth. (2008-02-05) More than meets the blue eye: You
may all be related Archived 2012-09-10 at the Wayback Machine..
Usatoday.com. Retrieved on 2011-12-23.
^ "Laserglow – Blue, Red, Yellow,
Green Lasers". Laserglow.com.
Archived from the original on 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
^ "Laserglow – Optogenetics". Laserglow.com. Archived from the
original on 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
^ Pastoureau, M., & Cruse, M. I. (2001). Blue: The history of a
color p. 64. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
^ See Michel Pastoureau, Blue: Histoire d'une couleur,
^ Moorey, Peter Roger (1999). Ancient mesopotamian materials and
industries: the archaeological evidence. Eisenbrauns.
pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-1-57506-042-2. Archived from the
original on 2015-10-03.
^ Alessandro Bongioanni & Maria Croce (ed.), The Treasures of
Ancient Egypt: From the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Universe Publishing,
a division of Ruzzoli Publications Inc., 2003. p. 310
^ Chase, W.T. 1971, "
Egyptian blue as a pigment and ceramic material."
In: R. Brill (ed.) Science and Archaeology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT
Press. ISBN 0-262-02061-0
^ J. Baines, "
Color Terminology and
Color Classification in Ancient
Color Terminology and Polychromy", in The American
Anthropologist, volume LXXXVII, 1985, pp. 282–97.
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur: effets et symboliques, p. 17
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour,
^ Matson, F.R. (1985). Compositional Studies of the Glazed Brick from
Ishtar Gate at Babylon. Museum of Fine Arts. The Research
Laboratory. ISBN 0-87846-255-4.
^ Michel Pastourou, Bleu: Histoire d'une couleur, p. 24
^ a b Philip Ball, Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Colour, p.
^ Caesar, The Gallic Wars, V., 14, 2. Cited by Miche Pastourou, p.
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu: Histoire d'une couleur, p. 26.
^ L. Brehier, Les mosaiques a fond d'azur, in Etudes byzantines,
volume III, Paris, 1945. pp. 46ff.
^ Anne Varichon, Couleurs –
Pigments et teintures dans les mains des
peoples, p. 175
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – Histoire d'une couleur, pp. 44–47
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and Invention of Colour. p. 346
^ Michel Pastoureau,
Blue – Histoire d'une couleur,
^ Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval
Painting (1956), Dover Publications, New York,
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour.
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour.
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour. p. 178
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and Invention of Colour, p. 165
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and Invention of Colour, p. 347
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur – effets et symboliques p.
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) – Madonna and Child Enthroned
with Saints – The
Metropolitan Museum of Art". metmuseum.org.
Archived from the original on 2012-07-04.
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and Invention of Colour, p. 171
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and Invention of Colour,
^ "Girl with a Pearl Earring". essentialvermeer.com. Archived from the
original on 2015-06-30.
^ a b Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur effets et symboliques p.
^ Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 17,
No. 100, April 1876 Archived 2012-11-06 at the Wayback Machine..
^ D G Schreber, Historische, physische und economische Beschreibung
des Waidtes, 1752, the appendix; Thorpe JF and Ingold CK, 1923,
Synthetic colouring matters – vat colours (London: Longmans, Green),
^ Foucaud, Édouard (1846). Frost, John, ed. The book of illustrious
mechanics of Europe and America. p. 236. Archived from the
original on 2016-06-29.
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur – effets et symboliques p.
^ F. Lauterbach, Der Kampf des Waides mit dem Indigo, Leipzig, p. 25.
Cited by Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – Histoire d'une couleur,
^ Elmar Steingruber "
Indigo Colorants" Ullmann's
Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2004, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur, effets et symboliques p. 30
^ J.R. Hill, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy, Oxford
University Press, 1995.
Blue and Buff. "
Blue and Buff: Buff and Blue: Whig politics in the
late 18th century". blueandbuff.blogspot.com. Archived from the
original on 2014-04-16.
^ Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life, p. 174.
^ "Army Dress Uniform". army.mil. Archived from the original on
2014-11-19. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ Jean Tulard, Jean-François Fayard, Alfred Fierro, Histoire et
dictionnaire de la Révolution française, 1789–1799, Éditions
Robert Laffont, collection Bouquins, Paris, 1987.
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – Histoire d'une couleur,
^ Metropolitan Police. "History". met.police.uk. Archived from the
original on 2008-12-03.
^ Okidegbe, Ngozi (2011), "I Love a Man in Uniform: The Debate
Surrounding Uniforming the New York Police Force in the 19th Century",
in Wiggerich, Sandro; Kensy, Steven, Staat Macht Uniform, Franz
Steiner Verlag, ISBN 978-3-515-09933-2
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – HIstoire d'une couleur,
^ oger Keyes, Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Catalogue of the Mary A.
Ainsworth Collection, R, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College,
1984, p. 42, plate #140, p. 91 and catalogue entry #439, p. 185. for
more on the story of
Prussian blue in Japanese prints, see also the
website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
^ Maerz and Paul (1930). A Dictionary of
Color New York: McGraw Hill
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur, p. 32.
^ a b Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour, p.
^ Michel Eugene Chevreul, De la loi du contraste simultané des
couleurs, Paris, (1839). Cited by Philip Ball, p. 257.
^ Ogden Rood, Modern Chromatics, (1879).
^ Philip Ball, Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour, p. 268.
Cobalt blue". Archived from the original on 2012-06-20.
^ Letter to his brother Theo, (1888). Cited by Philip Ball, from
Letters of Vincent van Gogh, edited by M. Roskill, Flamingo, London,
2000. p. 268.
^ Daniel V. Thompson (1956), The Materials and Techniques of Medieval
Painting, Dover Publications, New York (ISBN 0-486-20327-1)
^ a b c "Suitably Dressed," the Economist, December 16, 2010.
^ *Kelly, Ian. Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy. Hodder &
^ a b Wassily Kandinsky, M. T. Sadler (Translator) Concerning the
Spiritual in Art. Dover Publ. (Paperback). 80
pp. ISBN 0-486-23411-8.
^ "Un certain bleu pénètre votre âme." Cited by C.A. Riley, Color
Codes, University Press of New England, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1995.
Mark Rothko 1903–1970. Tate Gallery Publishing, 1987.
^ Michel Pastoureau, Bleu – Histoire d'une couleur,
Blue Army (OPFOR) Units". Archived from the original on 2013-08-14.
^ Heller, Eva. Wie Farben wirken: Farbpsychologie, Farbsymbolik,
kreative Farbgestaltung. Berlin: Rowohlt, 2004.
^ "Top 10 Weather Related Problems People Complain About".
theweatherprediction.com. Archived from the original on
^ Psychology of
Color Archived March 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Put On A Happy Face Lyrics". stlyrics.com. Archived from the
original on 2010-01-13.
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur – effets et symboliques, p.
^ "Should we not dress girls in pink?". BBC Magazine. BBC. 8 January
2009. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 28 April
^ a b c Anne Varichon, Couleurs –
Pigments et teintures dans les
mains des peuples, p. 178
^ Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur – effets et symboliques p.
^ Balfour-Paul, Jenny (1997).
Indigo in the Arab world (1. publ. ed.).
London: Routledge. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-7007-0373-9. Archived
from the original on 2017-01-31.
^ "The Sahara's Tuareg – Pictures, More From National Geographic
Magazine". nationalgeographic.com. Archived from the original on
Estonia in brief: National Symbols" at Estonica website
Estonica.org Archived February 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
^ a b Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
(abridged edition), Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, (1960), p.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved
2013-03-24. Colour, light and shade blog on political colours
^ Brooks, David (December 2001). "One Nation, Slightly Divisible". The
Atlantic Monthly. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010.
Retrieved 2 November 2010.
^ Cheong Wa Dae / The
Blue House, archived from the original on
2011-09-27, The Main Building and its two annexes are covered with a
total of 150,000 traditional Korean blue roof tiles (hence, the name
Blue House" is also commonly used when referring to
^ "Your question answered". udayton.edu. Archived from the original on
^ "The Spirit of Notre Dame". Nd.edu. Archived from the original on
2011-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
^ "Board Question #31244 The 100 Hour Board". Theboard.byu.edu.
Archived from the original on 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
^ Stevens, Samantha. The Seven Rays: a Universal Guide to the
Archangels. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2004. ISBN 1-894663-49-7.
^ Numbers 15:38.
^ Tekhelet.com Archived 2008-01-30 at the Wayback Machine., the Ptil
^ Mishneh Torah,
Tzitzit 2:1; Commentary on Numbers 15:38.
Numbers Rabbah 14:3;
^ Exodus 24:10;
^ Numbers 4:6–12.
^ "When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?". Smithsonian.
^ Kunzler's dictionary of
Jazz provides two separate entries: blues,
African-American genre (p.128), and the blues form, a
widespread musical form (p.131).
^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I,
p.359. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
^ Robert Cantwell, Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern
Sound (University of Illinois Press, 2002), pgs 65–66.
^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary on-line
^ Eva Heller (2009), Psychologie de la Couleur, pp. 14–15.
^ Koerner, Brendan I. (2003-05-28). "Where do "blue chip" stocks come
from?". Slate.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-05. Retrieved
^ a b Eva Heller, Psychologie de la couleur –effets et symboliques,
^ Vocabulary.com definition of "Wild
^ Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 40,
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Mollo, John (1991). Uniforms of The
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Broecke, Lara (2015). Cennino Cennini's Il Libro dell'Arte: a New
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The dictionary definition of blue at Wiktionary
Media related to blue at Wikimedia Commons
← higher frequencies longer
gray (or grey)
aqua (or cyan)
fuchsia (or magenta)
Shades of blue
Air Force blue
Air superiority blue
Bleu de France
Deep sky blue
International Klein Blue
St. Patrick's blue
Template:Shades of cyan
On Vision and Colors
Spectral power distribution
Lüscher color test
Tertiary colour (intermediate)
Aggressive colour (warm)
Receding colour (cool)
Achromatic colours (Neutral)
Tinctures in heraldry
Color analysis (art)
Color realism (art style)
Linguistic relativity and the color naming debate
Blue–green distinction in language
Color in Chinese culture
Traditional colors of Japan
Human skin color
Colourfulness (chroma and saturation)
Tints and shades
Lightness (tone and value)
Color Marketing Group
Color Association of the United States
International Colour Authority
International Commission on Illumination
International Commission on Illumination (CIE)
International Colour Association
List of colors: A–F
List of colors: G–M
List of colors: N–Z
List of colors
List of colors (compact)
List of colors
List of colors by shade
List of color palettes
List of color spaces
List of Crayola crayon colors
List of fictional colors
List of RAL colors
List of web colors
Multi-primary color display
Local color (visual art)
Index of color-related articles