Venetian red

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Venetian red
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#C80815
sRGBB (r, g, b)(200, 8, 21)
HSV (h, s, v)(356°, 96%, 78%)
CIELChuv (L, C, h)(42, 136, 12°)
ISCC–NBS descriptorVivid red
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

Venetian red is a light and warm (somewhat unsaturated) pigment that is a darker shade of red. The composition of Venetian red changed over time. Originally it consisted of natural ferric oxide (Fe2O3, partially hydrated) obtained from the red hematite. Modern versions are frequently made with synthetic red iron oxide produced via calcination of green vitriol (a.k.a. copperas)[2] mixed with white chalk. The pigment contains up to 50% of the ferric oxide.[3]

Historically, Venetian red was a red earth color often used in Italian Renaissance paintings. It was also called sinopia because the best-quality pigment came from the port of Sinop in northern Turkey. It was the major ingredient in the pigment called cinabrese, described by the 15th-century Italian painter and writer Cennino Cennini in his handbook on painting, Il libro dell'arte. Cennini recommended mixing Venetian red with lime white, in proportions of two to one, to paint the skin tones of faces, hands and nudes.[4]

During the English Civil War (1642–1651), Venetian red was adopted as the primary uniform colour of the New Model Army, to ease mutual identification on the battlefield. In addition, Venetian red was cheaper than other dyes at the time. Following the war, this practice was continued by the British Army, giving its soldiers the nickname "Redcoats", during the 18th and 19th centuries. Venetian red was replaced as the main colour of British Army battledress by khaki, during the 1890s.[5]

The first recorded use of Venetian red as a color name in English was in 1753.[6] The pigment is also known as English red, Prussian red, scarlet ochre, Indian red, with Spanish red being very similar.[2]


  1. ^ "Venetian red / #c80815 hex color". ColorHexa. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  2. ^ a b Eastaugh 2008.
  3. ^ Gettens & Stout 1966.
  4. ^ Lara Broecke, Cennino Cennini's Il Libro dell'Arte, a New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription, Archetype 2015, p. 62.
  5. ^ "Venetian Red—Loved by Painters, Hated by American Colonists — Workshops In France". Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  6. ^ Maerz and Paul, A Dictionary of Color, New York: McGraw-Hill 1930, page 201; Color sample of Venetian red: page 35 Plate 6 color sample I12