Bice, from the French bis, a word of doubtful origin, originally meaning dark-coloured, was a term applied in English to particular green or blue pigments. In French the terms vert bis and azur bis mean dark green and dark blue respectively. Bice pigments were generally prepared from basic copper carbonates, but sometimes ultramarine or other pigments were used.
Jo Kirby of the National Gallery London notes the occurrence of the pigment bice in three grades in an account of Tudor painting at Greenwich Palace in 1527. In this case, the three grades indicate the use of the mineral azurite rather than a manufactured blue copper carbonate. Similarly, green bice in other 16th-records may sometimes have been the mineral malachite. Ian Bristow, an historian of paint, concluded that the pigment Blue Bice found in records of British interior-decoration until the first half of the 17th-century was azurite. The expensive natural mineral azurite was superseded by manufactured Blue Verditer.
- Roskill & Hand, ed., Hans Holbein, Paintings, Prints, and Reception, Yale, (2001), 119.
- Bristow, Ian C., Interior House-Painting Colours and Technology, 1615-1640, Yale (1996), 17.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
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