The pigment bone black is known as ivory black, bone charcoal and has been in use for a very long time in oil painting. Rembrandt used copious amount of it in his works.
The pigment has been extracted from the same process since the ancient Egypt. You char animal bone in the absence of oxygen and scrape off the soot. Alternatively, you use waste ivory. Hence the name. In German, Bone black is known as Beinschwarz, in Italian Nero d’ossa and in French noir d’os all of which are direct translations.
Chemically, the pigment consists of about 10% carbon, 84% calcium phosphate and 6% calcium carbonate.
Return to the art glossary
Return to entries beginning with B