/ azh • uh • rite /

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Painted swatch of Azurite.

Brief description of Azurite:

Azurite is composed of mineral basic carbonate of copper, found in many parts of the world in the upper oxidized portions of copper ore deposits. Azurite mineral is usually associated in nature with malachite, the green basic carbonate of copper that is far more abundant. Occasional use began with Egyptians, but it was uncommon until the Middle Ages when the manufacture of the ancient synthetic pigment "Egyptian blue" was forgotten. Produced artificially from the 17th century, it was replaced when "Prussian blue" is discovered in the 18th century. Azurite was the most important blue pigment in European painting throughout the middle ages and Renaissance. 

Names for Azurite:

Alternative names: mineral: lapis armenius, mountain blue, azurium citramarinum; artificial: blue verditer, blue bice.
Word origin: The name "Azurite" comes from Latin borrowed a Persian word (lazhward) for blue which in the form of lazurium became azurium, and gave us our word azure.
Non-English names:
German French Italian
Azurit azurite azzurrite
Origin: mineral and artificial
Chemical name:

Basic copper(II)-carbonate


Example of use by artists:

A strange green mantle for the Virgin

Raphael, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The azurite blue of the Virgin's mantle has darkened due to its degradation into green malachite and now this mantle looks greenish. Also to be noted in this painting is that the children are not naked. Indeed, this important early altarpiece by Raphael was painted for the small Franciscan convent of Sant'Antonio in Perugia and hung in a part of the church reserved for nuns. According to Vasari, it was the nuns who asked Raphael to depict the Christ Child and infant Saint John the Baptist fully clothed. Their patronage may also account for the painting's conservative style and the emphasis given to gold decoration.