The only yellow pigments available to painters before the Industrial Revolution were mined from the earth.
The ancient Egyptians used yellow ochre, one of the earliest pigments, to paint the skin tones on their murals. It’s still popular with artists today, due to the fact that it’s opaque and blends well with other colours, or greys them down. The colour ranges from a pale earthy yellow to a dark brown, depending on the maker and even batch to batch. This versatile yellow produces natural-looking skin tones and landscape colour. It dries faster than mineral and organic colours because it is an earth pigment.
Naples yellow hue
On ceramics, the Babylonians used Naples yellow (lead antimoniate). True Naples yellow is a particularly toxic earth colour that contains lead. White, yellow ochre, and a red are widely found in contemporary substitutes (or “hues”). To raise the overall temperature of my landscapes, I sometimes warm up my white with a hint of Naples yellow hue.
gamboge (photo courtesy of Gamblin Artists Colors)
Gamboge was first used in East Asia in the 8th century. It was once made from the deadly arsenic sulphide dye. It was used to illuminate manuscripts in China. The pigment was made from an amber-like material harvested from plants, rather than from the ground. Later, it was used to glaze portraits.
Indian gamboge was substituted as a glassed pigment in the mid-19th century. It’s no longer real Indian yellow, dating back to the 15th century. It is once believed that it was made in India from the bladder stones of cows fed mango leaves; however, this is debunked by recent studies, but it remains a fascinating shop. The alternatives today are transparent and highly tintable.
19th and 20th Century Pigments
chrome yellow (photo courtesy of Gamblin Artists Colors)
The 19th century also saw the manufacture by Vincent Van Gogh and George Seurat of early mineral pigments, such as chrome yellow (lead chromate). True yellow chromium is very toxic, easily discolours and has a poor tinting strength.
Cadmium yellow medium
Chrome yellow was substituted around 1840 with cadmium (cadmium sulphide). In his drawings, Monet included it. Both colours are radioactive, but the visibility of cadmium yellow remains high. In reality, the light form is a different pigment than in the medium and deep versions. Black cadmium dry more slowly than yellow chrome.
Hansa yellow medium
Hansa yellow was first produced in Germany before World War I. Many painters concerned about the toxicity of cadmium are now switching to the Hansa shades. Hansa yellow is similar in hue to cadmium yellow, but Hansa is translucent, lighter and has a higher tinting intensity. Because of the above, it goes on in mixtures. It’s much less costly and weighs less per ounce, which is important to the plein air painter.
The term “hue” in the name of a paint maker implies that the colour is made of an alternate colour pigment (or pigments). Yellow Naples for instance is a substitute for true yellow Naples. Tones are either produced because it is too costly for the genuine pigment to be mined or because it is not considered too dangerous. In some situations, the dye can have more attractive properties than the natural pigment.
Pigments and Color Index Name Codes
The name of the paint, however, would not give you more detail than the code for the colour index (C.I. name code). These codes on tube labels are used by paint makers to further distinguish the colours of the colour. For instance, the PY37 contains cadmium yellow deep. “P” is a pigment, “Y” is a purple and the following number is a different pigment, cadmium zinc sulphide in this case.
These numbers are significant because two paint tubes from various suppliers can have identical colour names and yet consist of different pigments. However, it should be remembered that the final paint colour can vary depending on the vehicle oil, the pigment content, moulting time, and other factors even though manufacturers use the same pigment for a specific colour.
Indian yellow oil paint
In the 15th century India was first known as piuri or purree. Indian yellow originated in India. It was found that the hue was orange-yellow and optical, which blurred and appeared to shimmer under the light of sunshine. The painting of Rajput-style miniatures and frescoes became popular in India for dying tissue and painting the houses’ walls.
The pigment was quickly introduced into Europe and popularised by Dutch painters, such as Jan Vermeer, who admired this remarkable yellow’s special brightness. Indian yellow was used in the JMW Turner’s aquarelle and subsequently the Scottish colours. Van Gogh, who painted a luminous Indian yellow moon in his masterpiece The Starry Night in 1889, was one of his most well known consumers. But it was one of the last coloured visions: Indian yellow vanished in unexplained ways from the market at the beginning of the 20th century, taking us to a fascinating tale.
At that time there was largely an unknown source and part of Indian yellow. Soft yellow lumps had arrived from Calcutta in India for years in sealed packets in the London docks – some of them directed at Messers Winsor and Newton. Clean and clean the dusty yellow balls and distinguish the greenish and yellow processes. These lumps had no accurate knowledge of the ingredients, but they had a heavy scent of ammonia and were assumed to contain snake urine or ox bile, or camel urine in the more populous theory.
In 1882 the explorer, botanist and curator of Kew Gardens, Sir Joseph Hooker was attempting to get to the root of the mystery. He sent a letter to the Indian Department of Revenue and Agriculture asking questions about the origins of the pigment. He was answered several months later by Mr Mukharji, who said he had observed a group of cowherds in Mirzapur, Bengal, feeding their livestock mango and water leaves so that their urine would turn into a bright yellow shade. He pointed out that cows “looked very unhealthy.” They gathered, heated, and strained their urine in order to create a muddy yellow sediment that was then rolled off in London.
In the Royal Society of Arts Diary, Mukharji released his letter and shortly after the pigment vanished – which he rumoured as the result of animal cruelty demonstrations leading to legislation to ban further manufacture. Interestingly enough, mango leaves contain the poison ivy toxin urushiol. At the time, a pigment sample by chemist Carl Gräbe was tested by Hooker.
The odd element of the narrative is that no trace can be found of the rule, or the past of the pigment before the 1900s, except for Mukharji’s letter. Few may claim it was a fake, but it is impossible. Since then, there have been several reports. In 2002 the author Victoria Finlay traced Mukharji’s steps towards Mirzapur, although he found no pigment evidence. A 2018 release examined the initial chemical analysis by Carl Gräbe, which confirms the sample’s animal origin and identifies the source as urine based on the presence of the essential marker hippuric acid.
In the Winsor & Newton archives, nugget-looking lumps of the original Indian yellow pigment helped our chemists develop a strength and light-resistance colour of this type in 1996. The new Indian Yellow is available in our ranges of oil and watercolour with outstanding clarity and a warm golden yellow, a staple colour and an important glazing of each artist.
This colour has been respected for decades. But only a completely lightfast pigment is now developed in the paint.
The practitioners and students still wanted an oil colour, but without the negative attributes of the conventional medium, with all the properties and features of a real oil colour.
Different producers have overcome the development of a water-soluble oil paint, but not everyone appears to have real oil colour. Holbein aims in formulating DUO Aqua Oil Paint with the same quality and properties as standard Holbein Artist Oil Color to produce a true oil colour for the professionals, which is definitely one of the most attractive of the world.
Holbein invented a special additive that acts as an overcoat, which loses its influence when the oil paint is dried, to make DUO similar in all respects to its conventional technical cousin.
The water-soluble DUO Aqua Oil Paint is the same as the Holbein Artist Oil Color oil is used. No special care is available. The oil does not shift or decompose (crack). Only the additive that is unnecessary and has no effect on the drying process is not water in the product.
The pigment and oil are covered by the surface agent rendering them water receptive and soluble. This is everything. That is everything. No other ingredient is available.
Aquarel, Acrylic gouache and Acryla gouache blend with the Oil Color.
If the artist does not want water to be used, DUO can be used as a conventional oil colour, which results in the same thing. DUO naturally blends and mixes with the conventional oil and oil mediums even though water solubility is lost when traditional oils or mediums reach 30 percent of the mixture. Duo is not categorised as a water based pigment, such as gouache, gouache, acrylic, acquerello, or acrylic.
The following shall be applicable to the general usage of DuO, although the drying time varies depending on application (thin or impasto) and/or humidity or the airiness. If mixed with water, the Pair steadily begins to dry up, and after the water drops out, the residual oil tends to oxidise with the same effects as conventional oils. The colour would have a little less clarity when it is still clean. When the water evaporates it returns to the standard equivalent with complete clarity.
When fused with water alone, the Pair dries in the oil medium with a marginally matte finish rather than standard oil. Depending on the environment, a completed job need not be coated for six to eight months.
Heavy metal pigments, such as cadmiums and cobalts, are used in 17 “Elite” marked colours.
Colours: Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Deep, Cadmium Gold Deep, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Naples Yellow, Cobalt Green, Cobalt Green, Cadmium Green Colour, Cobalt Turquoise, CBN, Cobalt Blue and Cobalt Violet.
- Titanium White : the most common white because it is inert and non-reactive in most cases. It has a better opacity than lead or zinc, but it continues to yellow easily. It takes longer to dry than lead, but it dries quicker than zinc. It’s easy to deal with and blend, and combining it with zinc oxide increases the surface properties while also reducing the often overpowering tinting power of titanium pigment.
- Permanent White : A titanium white with the same general handling characteristics as the original, but with a barium sulphate addition that reduces tinting strength and improves clarity while inhibiting yellowing during early drying.
- Ceramic White : Ceramic White was designed to incorporate the best positive characteristics of white paints in collective form, through a collaborative research ventures of the Holbein Works Ltd. Laboratory and the Government Japanese Industrial Laboratory. It contains titanium and strontium pigments, all of which are inert to sulphur. Ceramic White provides superior surface strength without fragility, improves tinting and covering over lead and copper, but offers greater clarity, drying time and visual whiteness in comparison to titanium white. Excellent quality of handling.
A result of the world-class Holbein Color Laboratory Holbein Duo produces a surfactant to change the properties of the lens’ oil by making it water-soluble. Select 110 ml. tubes available in 40 and 110 ml.