Roman Black is a natural brownish-black earth that is a dense, opaque, heavy color that is absolutely permanent. Writers like De Mayerne mention the black earths of Rome and Venice. Roman black earth (Terra nera di Roma) is described by Salter as producing ‘the same effect as charcoal black’. It is comparatively warm to neutral in undertone, wets easily, and is non-greasy compared to carbon blacks. It is a valuable pigment when these qualities are required.
|English: black oxide
French: oxyde noir
German: Oxid Schwarzes
Italian: ossido nero
Portuguese: óxido preto
Spanish: óxido negro
|English: black earth, black ocher, black ochre, black iron oxide, iron oxide
French: fer oxydé, naturelle noir Indien
Italian: terra nera di Roma
Mars black is the name given to the artificial substitute of natural black oxide.
Origin and History
Black oxide is a recent development in modern pigments and was not often encountered in artists’ palettes before the 19th century. However, black earths that are mixtures of iron oxide, manganese oxide, and carbon have been in use since Antiquity.Source
Natural black oxide is usually from an iron ore called magnetite. Magnetite, also known as lodestone, is a ferrous ferric oxide that is heavy, black, and opaque. Theoretically, black iron oxide contains slightly more iron metal than red oxide but not nearly as much as yellow oxide. The native mineral may contain varying amounts of manganese, clay, and silica.Permanence and Compatibility
Natural black oxide is an absolutely permanent color for all uses on the artist’s palette. It is compatible with all other pigments and can be used with good results in all mediums.Oil Absorption and Grinding
Natural black oxide absorbs a moderately low amount of oil. The oil absorption ratio is 20–25 parts by weight of linseed oil to 100 parts by weight of pigment. If the measurement were grams, it would require 20–25 grams (by weight) of linseed oil to grind 100 grams (by weight) of pigment to form a stiff paste. It makes an average drying oil paint and forms a hard, somewhat flexible film.Toxicity
Natural black oxide is not considered toxic, but care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment to avoid inhaling the dust.
Rublev Colours Pigment: Roman Black
|Pigment Black 11 (77499)
|Iron oxide and manganese oxides from natural sources
|ASTM Lightfastness Rating