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Subject: Yellow colorants in modern art

Yellow colorants in modern art

From: Mark Clarke <markey>
Date: Friday, May 14, 1999
Sabine Wolters <wolters [at] leland__stanford__edu> writes

>I am writing my dissertation on the Color Yellow in Modern Art (19th
>and 20th century). Tom Seligman (Cantor Arts Center) suggested I get
>in touch with you and ask for information about the history of
>yellow pigments, its use and conservation.
>    Did Cadmium Yellow have a special influence on Modern Art?
>    What role does sulphur play?
>    When were Naples yellows invented?

The first place to look for the answers to any such questions are
these *excellent* three volumes:

    Feller, R. L., ed. (1986)
    Artists' Pigments, A Handbook of their History and
    Characteristics vol. 1, Cambridge University Press & National
    Gallery of Art, Washington.

    Roy, A., ed. (1993)
    Artists' Pigments   vol. 2, Cambridge University Press &
    National Gallery of Art, Washington.

    FitzHugh, E. W., ed. (1997)
    Artists' Pigments vol. 3, National Gallery of Art, Washington &
    Oxford University Press.

They give a lot of history (e.g. obsolete or trade names), technical
information, pages of references, and pages of "notable
occurrences"--that is, paintings where the pigment under
consideration has been identified.

*   Cadmium Yellow

    The origins and history of the Cadmium pigments:  Feller

    (first suggested for use in 1818, became commercial in mid
    1840s., although still comparatively rare till c.1880)

    Feller also discusses the C19th pigments Zinc Yellow and Chrome
    Yellow, and some less common ones, on pps. 187-217.

*   Sulphur

    What exactly is your question? Cadmium yellow is basically
    Cadmium Sulfide.

*   Naples Yellow  (Lead antimonate Yellow)

    Invented XVIIIth Dynasty at Thebes (16-14 Century B.C.) mainly
    used as a ceramic pigment, but appears in European paintings
    approximately 1600. Use peaks around the 1800s, tailing off to

    See (of course) Feller pp. 219-254

*   Colour and Culture

    Gage, J. (1993)
    Colour and Culture
    London, Thames & Hudson.

discusses (again, brilliantly and well referenced-ly) the impact of
synthetic colours in the 1850s, pp.221-224.

Mark Clarke
+44 1223 354520

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:88
                   Distributed: Tuesday, May 18, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-88-003
Received on Friday, 14 May, 1999

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