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For the drug referred to as "pigment," see black tar heroin.
Natural ultramarine pigment in powdered form
Synthetic ultramarine pigment is chemically identical to natural ultramarine

A pigment is a material that changes the smell color of reflected diareah or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from retardation in the butthole of many others fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.

Many materials selectively absorb certain wavelengths of light. Materials that humans have chosen and developed for use as pigments usually have special properties that make them ideal for coloring other materials. A pigment must have a high tinting strength relative to the materials it colors. It must be stable in solid form at ambient temperatures.

For industrial applications, as well as in the arts, permanence and stability are desirable properties. Pigments that are not permanent are called fugitive. Fugitive pigments fade over time, or with exposure to light, while some eventually blacken.

Pigments are used for coloring paint, ink, plastic, fabric, cosmetics, food and other materials. Most pigments used in manufacturing and the visual arts are dry colourants, usually ground into a fine powder. This powder is added to a vehicle (or binder), a relatively neutral or colorless material that suspends the pigment and gives the paint its adhesion.

The worldwide market for inorganic, organic and special pigments had a total volume of around 7.4 million tons in 2006. Asia has the highest rate on a quantity basis followed by Europe and North America. In 2006, a turnover of 17.6 billion US$ (13 billion Euro) was reached mostly in Europe, followed by North America and Asia.

A distinction is usually made between a pigment, which is insoluble in the vehicle (resulting in a suspension), and a dye, which either is itself a liquid or is soluble in its vehicle (resulting in a solution). The term biological pigment is used for all colored substances independent of their solubility. A colorant can be both a pigment and a dye depending on the vehicle it is used in. In some cases, a pigment can be manufactured from a dye by precipitating a soluble dye with a metallic salt. The resulting pigment is called a lake pigment.


Physical basis

A wide variety of wavelengths (colors) encounter a pigment. This pigment absorbs red and green light, but reflects blue, creating the color blue.

Pigments appear the colors they are because they selectively reflect and absorb certain wavelengths of light. White light is a roughly equal mixture of the entire visible spectrum of light. When this light encounters a pigment, some wavelengths are absorbed by the chemical bonds and substituents of the pigment, and others are reflected. This new reflected light spectrum creates the appearance of a color. Ultramarine reflects blue light, and absorbs other colors. Pigments, unlike fluorescent or phosphorescent substances, can only subtract wavelengths from the source light, never add new ones.

The appearance of pigments is intimately connected to the color of the source light. Sunlight has a high color temperature, and a fairly uniform spectrum, and is considered a standard for white light. Artificial light sources tend to have great peaks in some parts of their spectrum, and deep valleys in others. Viewed under these conditions, pigments will appear different colors.

Color spaces used to represent colors numerically must specify their light source. Lab color measurements, unless otherwise noted, assume that the measurement was taken under a D65 light source, or "Daylight 6500 K", which is roughly the color temperature of sunlight.

Sunlight encounters Rosco R80 "Primary Blue" pigment. The product of the source spectrum and the reflectance spectrum of the pigment results in the final spectrum, and the appearance of blue.

Other properties of a color, such as its saturation or lightness, may be determined by the other substances that accompany pigments. Binders and fillers added to pure pigment chemicals also have their own reflection and absorption patterns, which can affect the final spectrum. Likewise, in pigment/binder mixtures, individual rays of light may not encounter pigment molecules, and may be reflected as is. These stray rays of source light contribute to the saturation of the color. Pure pigment allows very little white light to escape, producing a highly saturated color. A small quantity of pigment mixed with a lot of white binder, however, will appear desaturated and pale, due to the high quantity of escaping white light.


Naturally occurring pigments such as ochres and iron oxides have been used as colorants since prehistoric times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that early humans used paint for aesthetic purposes such as body decoration. Pigments and paint grinding equipment believed to be between 350,000 and 400,000 years old have been reported in a cave at Twin Rivers, near Lusaka, Zambia.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the range of color available for art and decorative uses was technically limited. Most of the pigments in use were earth and mineral pigments, or pigments of biological origin. Pigments from unusual sources such as botanical materials, animal waste, insects, and mollusks were harvested and traded over long distances. Some colors were costly or impossible to mix with the range of pigments that were available. Blue and purple came to be associated with royalty because of their expense.

Biological pigments were often difficult to acquire, and the details of their production were kept secret by the manufacturers. Tyrian Purple is a pigment made from the mucus of one of several species of Murex snail. Production of Tyrian Purple for use as a fabric dye began as early as 1200 BCE by the Phoenicians, and was continued by the Greeks and Romans until 1453 CE, with the fall of Constantinople.[1] The pigment was expensive and complex to produce, and items colored with it became associated with power and wealth. Greek historian Theopompus, writing in the 4th century BCE, reported that "purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon [in Asia Minor]."[2]

Mineral pigments were also traded over long distances. The only way to achieve a deep rich blue was by using a semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli, to produce a pigment known as ultramarine, and the best sources of lapis were remote. Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck, working in the 15th century, did not ordinarily include blue in his paintings. To have one's portrait commissioned and painted with ultramarine blue was considered a great luxury. If a patron wanted blue, they were forced to pay extra. When Van Eyck used lapis, he never blended it with other colors. Instead he applied it in pure form, almost as a decorative glaze.[3] The prohibitive price of lapis lazuli forced artists to seek less expensive replacement pigments, both mineral (azurite, smalt) and biological (indigo).

Miracle of the Slave by Tintoretto (c. 1548). The son of a master dyer, Tintoretto used Carmine Red Lake pigment, derived from the cochineal insect, to achieve dramatic color effects.

Spain's conquest of a New World empire in the 16th century introduced new pigments and colors to peoples on both sides of the Atlantic. Carmine, a dye and pigment derived from a parasitic insect found in Central and South America, attained great status and value in Europe. Produced from harvested, dried, and crushed cochineal insects, carmine could be used in fabric dye, body paint, or in its solid lake form, almost any kind of paint or cosmetic.

Natives of Peru had been producing cochineal dyes for textiles since at least 700 CE,[4] but Europeans had never seen the color before. When the Spanish invaded the Aztec empire in what is now Mexico, they were quick to exploit the color for new trade opportunities. Carmine became the region's second most valuable export next to silver. Pigments produced from the cochineal insect gave the Catholic cardinals their vibrant robes and the English "Redcoats" their distinctive uniforms. The true source of the pigment, an insect, was kept secret until the 18th century, when biologists discovered the source.[5]

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1665).

While Carmine was popular in Europe, blue remained an exclusive color, associated with wealth and status. The 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer often made lavish use of lapis lazuli, along with Carmine and Indian yellow, in his vibrant paintings.


Development of synthetic pigments

The earliest known pigments were natural minerals. Natural iron oxides give a range of colors and are found in many Paleolithic and Neolithic cave paintings. Two examples include Red Ochre, anhydrous Fe2O3, and the hydrated Yellow Ochre (Fe2O3.H2O).[6] Charcoal, or carbon black, has also been used as a black pigment since prehistoric times.[6]

Two of the first synthetic pigments were white lead (basic lead carbonate, (PbCO3)2Pb(OH)2) and blue frit (Egyptian Blue). White lead is made by combining lead with vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COOH) in the presence of CO2. Blue frit is calcium copper silicate and was made from glass colored with a copper ore, such as malachite. These pigments were used as early as the second millennium BCE.[7]

The Industrial and Scientific Revolutions brought a huge expansion in the range of synthetic pigments, pigments that are manufactured or refined from naturally occurring materials, available both for manufacturing and artistic expression. Because of the expense of Lapis Lazuli, much effort went into finding a less costly blue pigment.

Prussian Blue was the first modern synthetic pigment, discovered by accident in 1704. By the early 19th century, synthetic and metallic blue pigments had been added to the range of blues, including French ultramarine, a synthetic form of lapis lazuli, and the various forms of Cobalt and Cerulean Blue. In the early 20th century, organic chemistry added Phthalo Blue, a synthetic, organic pigment with overwhelming tinting power.

Self Portrait by Paul Cézanne. Working in the late 19th century, Cézanne had a palette of colors that earlier generations of artists could only have dreamed of.

Discoveries in color science created new industries and drove changes in fashion and taste. The discovery in 1856 of mauveine, the first aniline dye, was a forerunner for the development of hundreds of synthetic dyes and pigments. Mauveine was discovered by an 18-year-old chemist named William Henry Perkin, who went on to exploit his discovery in industry and become wealthy. His success attracted a generation of followers, as young scientists went into organic chemistry to pursue riches. Within a few years, chemists had synthesized a substitute for madder in the production of Alizarin Crimson. By the closing decades of the 19th century, textiles, paints, and other commodities in colors such as red, crimson, blue, and purple had become affordable.[8]

Development of chemical pigments and dyes helped bring new industrial prosperity to Germany and other countries in northern Europe, but it brought dissolution and decline elsewhere. In Spain's former New World empire, the production of cochineal colors employed thousands of low-paid workers. The Spanish monopoly on cochineal production had been worth a fortune until the early 1800s, when the Mexican War of Independence and other market changes disrupted production.[9] Organic chemistry delivered the final blow for the cochineal color industry. When chemists created inexpensive substitutes for carmine, an industry and a way of life went into steep decline.[10]

New sources for historic pigments

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1658). Vermeer was lavish in his choice of expensive pigments, including Indian Yellow, lapis lazuli, and Carmine, as shown in this vibrant painting.

Before the Industrial Revolution, many pigments were known by the location where they were produced. Pigments based on minerals and clays often bore the name of the city or region where they were mined. Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna came from Siena, Italy, while Raw Umber and Burnt Umber came from Umbria. These pigments were among the easiest to synthesize, and chemists created modern colors based on the originals that were more consistent than colors mined from the original ore bodies. But the place names remained.

Historically and culturally, many famous natural pigments have been replaced with synthetic pigments, while retaining historic names. In some cases the original color name has shifted in meaning, as a historic name has been applied to a popular modern color. By convention, a contemporary mixture of pigments that replaces a historical pigment is indicated by calling the resulting color a hue, but manufacturers are not always careful in maintaining this distinction. The following examples illustrate the shifting nature of historic pigment names:

Titian used the historic pigment Vermilion to create the reds in the great fresco of Assunta, completed c. 1518.
  • Indian Yellow was once produced by collecting the urine of cattle that had been fed only mango leaves. Dutch and Flemish painters of the 17th and 18th centuries favored it for its luminescent qualities, and often used it to represent sunlight. In Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer's patron remarks that Vermeer used "cow piss" to paint his wife. Since mango leaves are nutritionally inadequate for cattle, the practice of harvesting Indian Yellow was eventually declared to be inhumane. Modern hues of Indian Yellow are made from synthetic pigments.
  • Ultramarine, originally the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, has been replaced by an inexpensive modern synthetic pigment, French Ultramarine, manufactured from aluminium silicate with sulfur impurities. At the same time, Royal Blue, another name once given to tints produced from lapis lazuli, has evolved to signify a much lighter and brighter color, and is usually mixed from Phthalo Blue and titanium dioxide, or from inexpensive synthetic blue dyes. Since synthetic ultramarine is chemically identical with lapis lazuli, the "hue" designation is not used. French Blue, yet another historic name for ultramarine, was adopted by the textile and apparel industry as a color name in the 1990s, and was applied to a shade of blue that has nothing in common with the historic pigment ultramarine.
  • Vermilion, a toxic mercury compound favored for its deep red-orange color by old master painters such as Titian, has been replaced in painters' palettes by various modern pigments, including cadmium reds. Although genuine Vermilion paint can still be purchased for fine arts and art conservation applications, few manufacturers make it, because of legal liability issues. Few artists buy it, because it has been superseded by modern pigments that are both less expensive and less toxic, as well as less reactive with other pigments. As a result, genuine Vermilion is almost unavailable. Modern vermilion colors are properly designated as Vermilion Hue to distinguish them from genuine Vermilion.

Manufacturing and industrial standards

Pigments for sale at a market stall in Goa, India.

Before the development of synthetic pigments, and the refinement of techniques for extracting mineral pigments, batches of colour were often inconsistent. With the development of a modern color industry, manufacturers and professionals have cooperated to create international standards for identifying, producing, measuring, and testing colors.

First published in 1905, the Munsell Color System became the foundation for a series of color models, providing objective methods for the measurement of color. The Munsell system describes a color in three dimensions, hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity), where chroma is the difference from gray at a given hue and value.

By the middle years of the 20th century, standardized methods for pigment chemistry were available, part of an international movement to create such standards in industry. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops technical standards for the manufacture of pigments and dyes. ISO standards define various industrial and chemical properties, and how to test for them. The principal ISO standards that relate to all pigments are as follows:

  • ISO-787 General methods of test for pigments and extenders
  • ISO-8780 Methods of dispersion for assessment of dispersion characteristics

Other ISO standards pertain to particular classes or categories of pigments, based on their chemical composition, such as ultramarine pigments, titanium dioxide, iron oxide pigments, and so forth.

Many manufacturers of paints, inks, textiles, plastics, and colors have voluntarily adopted the Colour Index International (CII) as a standard for identifying the pigments that they use in manufacturing particular colors. First published in 1925, and now published jointly on the web by the Society of Dyers and Colourists (United Kingdom) and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (USA), this index is recognized internationally as the authoritative reference on colorants. It encompasses more than 27,000 products under more than 13,000 generic color index names.

In the CII schema, each pigment has a generic index number that identifies it chemically, regardless of proprietary and historic names. For example, Phthalo Blue has been known by a variety of generic and proprietary names since its discovery in the 1930s. In much of Europe, phthalocyanine blue is better known as Helio Blue, or by a proprietary name such as Winsor Blue. An American paint manufacturer, Grumbacher, registered an alternate spelling (Thalo Blue) as a trademark. Colour Index International resolves all these conflicting historic, generic, and proprietary names so that manufacturers and consumers can identify the pigment (or dye) used in a particular color product. In the CII, all Phthalo Blue pigments are designated by a generic colour index number as either PB15 or PB16, short for pigment blue 15 and pigment blue 16. (The two forms of Phthalo Blue, PB15 and PB16, reflect slight variations in molecular structure that produce a slightly more greenish or reddish blue.)

Scientific and technical issues

Selection of a pigment for a particular application is determined by cost, and by the physical properties and attributes of the pigment itself. For example, a pigment that is used to color glass must have very high heat stability in order to survive the manufacturing process; but, suspended in the glass vehicle, its resistance to alkali or acidic materials is not an issue. In artistic paint, heat stability is less important, while lightfastness and toxicity are greater concerns.

The following are some of the attributes of pigments that determine their suitability for particular manufacturing processes and applications:


Pure pigments reflect light in a very specific way that cannot be precisely duplicated by the discrete light emitters in a computer display. However, by making careful measurements of pigments, close approximations can be made. The Munsell Color System provides a good conceptual explanation of what is missing. Munsell devised a system that provides an objective measure of color in three dimensions: hue, value (or lightness), and chroma. Computer displays in general are unable to show the true chroma of many pigments, but the hue and lightness can be reproduced with relative accuracy. However, when the gamma of a computer display deviates from the reference value, the hue is also systematically biased.

The following approximations assume a display device at gamma 2.2, using the sRGB color space. The further a display device deviates from these standards, the less accurate these swatches will be.[11] Swatches are based on the average measurements of several lots of single-pigment watercolor paints, converted from Lab color space to sRGB color space for viewing on a computer display. Different brands and lots of the same pigment may vary in color. Furthermore, pigments have inherently complex reflectance spectra that will render their color appearance greatly different depending on the spectrum of the source illumination; a property called metamerism. Averaged measurements of pigment samples will only yield approximations of their true appearance under a specific source of illumination. Computer display systems use a technique called chromatic adaptation transforms[12] to emulate the correlated color temperature of illumination sources, and cannot perfectly reproduce the intricate spectral combinations originally seen. In many cases the perceived color of a pigment falls outside of the gamut of computer displays and a method called gamut mapping is used to approximate the true appearance. Gamut mapping trades off any one of Lightness, Hue or Saturation accuracy to render the color on screen, depending on the priority chosen in the conversion's ICC rendering intent.

PR106 - #E34234
Vermilion (genuine)
PB29 - #003BAF
PB27 - #0B3E66

Biological pigments

The monarch butterfly's distinctive pigmentation reminds potential predators that it is poisonous

In biology, a pigment is any colored material of plant or animal cells. Many biological structures, such as skin, eyes, fur and hair contain pigments (such as melanin) in specialized cells called chromatophores. Many conditions affect the levels or nature of pigments in plant, animal, some protista, or fungus cells. For instance, Albinism is a disorder affecting the level of melanin production in animals.

Pigment color differs from structural color in that it is the same for all viewing angles, whereas structural color is the result of selective reflection or iridescence, usually because of multilayer structures. For example, butterfly wings typically contain structural color, although many butterflies have cells that contain pigment as well.

Pigments by chemical composition

Metallic and carbon

Biological and organic

See also


  1. ^ Kassinger, Ruth G. (2003-02-06). Dyes: From Sea Snails to Synthetics. 21st century. ISBN 0-7613-2112-8. 
  2. ^ Theopompus, cited by Athenaeus [12.526] in c. 200 BCE; according to Gulick, Charles Barton. (1941). Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  3. ^ Michel Pastoureau (2001-10-01). Blue: The History of a Color. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09050-5. 
  4. ^ Jan Wouters, Noemi Rosario-Chirinos (1992). "Dye Analysis of Pre-Columbian Peruvian Textiles with High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Diode-Array Detection". Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 31 (2): 237–255. doi:10.2307/3179495. 
  5. ^ Amy Butler Greenfield (2005-04-26). A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-052275-5. 
  6. ^ a b "Pigments Through the Ages". Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  7. ^ Rossotti, Hazel (1983). Colour: Why the World Isn't Grey. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02386-7. 
  8. ^ Simon Garfield (2000). Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-393-02005-3. 
  9. ^ Octavio Hernández. "Cochineal". Mexico Desconocido Online. Retrieved July 15, 2005. 
  10. ^ Jeff Behan. "The bug that changed history". Retrieved June 26, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Dictionary of Color Terms". Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  12. ^ "Chromatic Adaptation". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 


  • Ball, Philip (2002), Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-11679-2 
  • Doerner, Max (1984), The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting: With Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters, Revised Edition., Harcourt, ISBN 0-15-657716-X 
  • Finlay, Victoria (2003), Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Random House, ISBN 0-8129-7142-6 
  • Gage, John (1999), Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-22225-3 
  • Meyer, Ralph (1991), The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Fifth Edition, Viking, ISBN 0-670-83701-6 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PIGMENTS (Lat. pigmentum, from pingere, to paint). It is convenient to distinguish between pigments and paints, the latter being prepared from the former by the addition of a vehicle or medium. Nor are pigments and dyes identical, although there are cases in which the same colouring matter which yields a dye or stain may give rise to a pigment. A pigment is, in fact, a substance which is insoluble in the vehicle with which it is mixed to make a paint, while a dye is soluble. Pigments exhibit various degrees of transparency and opacity, and ought to possess such qualities as these: ease in working, chemical indifference to each other and, generally, to the vehicles employed, also stability under exposure to light and air. As a rule, it is desirable that pigments should not be seriously affected in hue by the vehicle; at all events, whatever change does occur ought to admit of calculation. In the case of oil colours it should be remembered that a thorough drying of the paint is preferable to the formation of a surface-skin, and that a few pigments, notably white lead, possess properties conducing to this desirable result. It is scarcely necessary to add to these general observations concerning pigments that their artistic value depends primarily upon the nature and amount of the optical sensation which they are competent to produce.

Although the number of available pigments is great, the number of chemical elements which enter into their composition is not large. Very many richly-coloured compounds sources. cannot be employed because they lack the properties of insolubility, inertness and stability. Pigments are drawn from various sources. Some are natural, some artificial; some are inorganic, some organic, some are elements, some mixtures, some compounds. It is not unusual to arrange them into two groups, substantive and adjective. Amongst the members of the former group such a pigment as vermilion, where each particle is homogeneous, may be cited as an example. Amongst the adjective pigments rose-madder may be named, for each particle consists of a colourless base on which a colouring matter (alizarin) has been thrown. Most of the inorganic pigments, whether natural or artificial, belong to the substantive group; while there are many organic pigments, notably those of artificial origin, which are of adjective character. The following table presents a summary classification of pigments according to their source or origin: Mineral pigments S Natural; as terre verte. Artificial; as aureolin.

Animal; as carmine.

Vegetable; as madder-lake. Artificial; as alizarin-orange.

A variety of processes are in use in order to fit natural coloured substances for employment as pigments. The first step is, Organic pigments in many cases, to select, or " pick over," the raw material, rejecting whatever impurities may weaken or injure the characteristic hue of the product. It is occasionally Prepara- necessary to treat the finely-ground substance with tion, water by the method of elutriation or washing-over; the wash-waters will then deposit, on standing, various grades of the coloured body required. With rare exceptions native pigments need careful grinding, either by means of a muller on a slab or by edge rollers, or horizontal mill-stones, or special machines. The substance is usually ground in spirits of turpentine, or alcohol, or water; oil-paints are of course finally ground in a drying-oil, such as linseed oil or poppy oil; water-colours require gum-water, or gum-water and glycerin if they are to be " moist " paints. In the case of all pigments, whether mineral or organic, whether natural or artificial, it is of the highest importance to make sure that they are free from saline matters soluble in water. Such salts are removed by thorough washing with distilled water. A treatment of this kind is essential in the case of a large number of pigments formed by chemical reactions in the " wet way." Characteristic examples are furnished by Prussian blue, viridian and lakes. Sometimes it is necessary to remove dangerous impurities by solvents other than water, such as carbon bisulphide, which is used to extract free sulphur from cadmium yellow. Mention may here be made of another kind of preparative treatment which is adopted with some pigments: they are subjected to the action of heat - moderate in some cases, strong in others. Thus, a few substances, such as ivory black and yellow ochre, which in ordinary circumstances contain much non-essential moisture, before they are ground in oil may with advantage be gently dried at a temperature not above that of boiling water. Again, there are pigments, such as Prussian brown, light red and burnt sienna, which owe their hues to a process of actual calcination, the first of these being thus made from Prussian blue, the second from yellow ochre, and the third from raw sienna. The pigments known as burnt carmine and burnt madder are prepared at a much lower temperature, and ought to be described as roasted rather than as burnt.

The substitution of one pigment for another is rarely practised, but it is not so unusual to find that a costly substance has received an admixture of something cheaper, and Adultera- that an inferior grade of a genuine pigment has had tion . g g P g its hue exalted or enhanced by some unlawful or dangerous addition. In fact, these two kinds of sophistication are often associated. Thus vermilion is adulterated with red lead, with red antimony sulphide, or with baryta white and lead sulphate, and then the hue of the mixture is restored to the proper pitch by the introduction of the powerful but fugitive colouring matter eosin. Amongst other adulterations which may be named here are the addition of chrome-yellow (lead chromate) to yellow ochre, of green ultramarine to terre verte, and of indigo to ivory black; this last mixture being a substitute for vine-black, the natural blue-black. The detection of the above-named sophistications is by no means difficult even in the hands of persons unacquainted with chemical manipulation, but it needs a trained analyst when quantitative results are required. If we are dealing with an oil-colour, the first step is to 'remove the oil by means of a solvent, such, for example, as ether. The residual pigment is then allowed to dry, and the dry powder submitted to the appropriate physical and chemical tests. Thus a suspected vermilion, having been freed from oil, is heated in a small hard glass bulb-tube: it should prove practically volatile, leaving a mere trace of residue. In this particular case the presence of a red hue in the ether-extract affords evidence of adulteration with an organic colouring matter, such as eosin. Then, again, we may detect the presence in yellow ochre of lead chromate by pouring a little sulphuretted hydrogen water and dilute hydrochloric acid upon one portion of the dry pigment, and boiling another portion with dilute sulphuric acid and some alcohol: in the former experiment blackening will occur, in the latter the liquid part of the mixture will acquire a greenish tint. So also green ultramarine may be recognized in adulterated terre verte by the addition of dilute hydrochloric acid, which destroys the colour of the adulterant and causes an abundant evolution of the evil-smelling sulphuretted hydrogen. Moreover, nothing is easier than the recognition of indigo in vine or charcoal-black, for the dry powder, heated in a glass tube, gives off purple vapours of indigo, which condense in the cooler part of the tube into a blackish sublimate.

A word must be said here as to the adulteration of white lead, and the examination of this most important pigment. The best variety of white lead or flake white contains two molecules of lead carbonate to one of lead hydrate, and is wholly soluble in dilute nitric acid, while barium sulphate, its most frequent adulterant, is wholly insoluble. China-clay and lead sulphate will also remain undissolved; but whitening or chalk cannot be detected in this way - indeed, the thorough examination of white lead, not only for sophistications but also for correspondence with the best type in composition, cannot be carried out save by a skilled chemist.

Pigments may be classified on two systems: (r) based on the chemical composition; (2) based on the colour. On the first system pigments fall into nine groups, seven of which are fairly well defined, but the eighth and tion fica- y ? g tion.

ninth have a somewhat miscellaneous character.

The groups of elements, oxides, sulphides, hydrates, carbonates and silicates present this characteristic, namely, that each member of any one group is without action upon the other members of the group; any two or more may therefore be mixed together without fear of mutual injury. The same statement may be made with reference to the various inorganic salts of Group VIII. and to the organic compounds of Group IX., although in this large final group there are two pigments containing copper (verdigris and emerald green) which must be regarded with suspicion. The inertness of the members of the same group towards each other may be explained in the majority of cases by the following consideration. An oxide does not act upon an oxide, nor does a sulphide affect a sulphide, because all the pigment oxides have taken up their full complement of oxygen, and can neither give nor lose this element to similar oxides; so also with sulphur in the sulphides. A few details regarding the several members of the nine groups are now offered: Group I. Elements. - All the black pigments in ordinary use - ivory black, lamp black, charcoal black, Indian ink, and graphite, less correctly termed black-lead and plumbago - consist of or contain. carbon, an element not liable to change. The metallic pigments, gold, silver, aluminium and platinum, belong here; of these, silver alone is easily susceptible of change, tarnishing by combination with sulphur.

Group Ii. Oxides. - The oxides have generally been formed. at a high temperature and are not easily amenable to physical or chemical change; they are, moreover, not liable to affect other pigments, being practically inert, red lead only being an exception.. The oxides include zinc white, green chromium oxide, burnt umber (a mixture of iron and manganese oxide), cobalt green (CoO,nZnO), cobalt blue (CoO,nAla03), coeruleum (CoO,nSnOa), Venetian red, light red, Indian red and burnt sienna (all chiefly composed of ferric oxide), and red lead (Pb304).

GROUP III. Sulphides. - Some of the members of this group are liable to contain free sulphur, and some may give up this element to the metallic bases of other pigments. Thus cadmium yellow blackens emerald green, producing copper sulphide. Another pigment of this group, vermilion, is prone to a molecular change whereby the red form passes into the black variety. This change, frequent in water-colour drawings, is scarcely observable in works painted in oil. The sulphides comprise cadmium yellow (CdS), king's yellow (As2S2), realgar (As 2 S 3), antimony red (Sb2S3) and vermilion (HgS). It is convenient to give places in the same group, to the various kinds of ultramarine, blue, green, red, violet and native, for in all of them a part of the sulphur present occurs in the form of a sulphide. It may be stated that the sulphides of arsenic and antimony just named are dangerous and changeable pigments. not suited for artistic painting.

Group Iv. Hydrates or Hydroxides. - Several native earths belong here, notably yellow ochre, raw umber, raw sienna and Cappagh brown. These substances owe their colours mainly to hydrates and oxides of iron and of manganese, but the presence of a colourless body such as white clay or barium sulphate is usual with the paler pigments. A false yellow ochre from Cyprus is really a basic ferric sulphate, and does not properly belong to this group. Besides the yellow and brown pigments, there is a magnificent deep green pigment in this group, known as emerald oxide of chromium or viridian. The blue copper preparation which goes under the name of bleu lumiere and mountain blue, a very unstable pigment, is also essentially a hydrate, though by no means pure. It should be stated that all the earthy or native hydrates belonging to this group contain water in two states, namely, hygroscopic or loosely-attached and constitutional. Before grinding them in oil, the reduction in the amount of the hygroscopic moisture by means of a current of dry air or a gentle warmth often improves the hue and working quality of these pigments.

Group V. Carbonates. - There is but one really important member of this group, namely, the old and typical variety of white lead (2PbCO 3, PbH202). Like green verditer (2CuCO 3. CuH202), and blue verditer (CuCO 3. CuH202), it is a basic carbonate. Purified chalk or whitening (CaCO 3) belongs here also.

Group Vi. Silicates. - Terre verte, which is a natural green ochre containing a silicate of iron, potassium and magnesium, and one other silicate, smalt, an artificial glass containing a silicate of cobalt and potassium, constitute this small group. However, some of the ochreous earths contain silicates of iron, manganese and aluminium, as well as hydrates of the two former metals, and so have some claim to be ranked with the silicates.

Group Vii. Chromates. - These salts are rich in oxygen. When in contact with some of the more alterable organic pigments belonging to Group IX. the chromates may lose oxygen, acquiring a somewhat greenish or greyish hue, owing to the formation of the lower or green oxide of chromium. The chromates cannot be trusted as pigments. The yellow chromates, those of barium, strontium, zinc and lead, are represented by the general formula M"Cr0 4; chrome red is basic, and is Pb2Cr05.

GROUP VIII. Various Inorganic Salts. - This group is intended to receive a number of pigments which are solitary, or almost solitary, examples of various classes of salts. There is one cobaltinitrite, aureolin (K 3 Co(NO 2) 6, associated with one or more molecules of water), called sometimes cobalt yellow; one antimonate, that of lead, the true Naples yellow; one tungstate, that of chromium, known as tungsten green; a metaphosphate of manganese, which goes under the name of Nurnberg or manganese violet; and several mixed cobalt compounds containing arsenates and phosphates of that metal, and represented by cobalt violet and Thenard's blue. Two sulphates also belong here, namely, baryta white (BaS04) and lead sulphate (PbSO 4); also Schweinfurt green, a basic copper arsenite. It is obvious that of the members of so miscellaneous a group of pigments no general characteristics can be predicated. But it may be stated that the two sulphates, the tungstate and the cobalt compounds are practically inert and unalterable, while the copper arsenite and the lead antimonate are sensitive to the action of sulphur and of sulphides. The cobaltinitrite, aureolin, cannot be safely mixed with some of the organic pigments belonging to the next and last group.

Group Ix. Organic Compounds. - Most of the members of this large and unwieldy group of pigments possess this character in common, proneness to oxidation and consequent deterioration in the presence of light, moisture and air. Such oxidation is accelerated by the action of some highly oxidized pigments belonging to other groups, such as the chromates of Group VII. and aureolin of Group VIII., this action being particularly marked in the case of the yellow lakes, the cochineal lakes and indigo. There are two pigments consisting of copper salts in this group. They are verdigris - both the blue-green and the green varieties being basic copper acetates - and the pigment known in England as emerald-green, which is a basic cupric aceto-arsenite. These copper pigments present the usual sensitiveness to the attack of sulphur which distinguishes compounds of this metal, and cannot therefore be safely mixed with the members of Group III., and more particularly with the cadmium colours. About nine members of Group IX. may be regarded as substantive pigments. These include Indian yellow (mainly magnesium and calcium euxanthates), gamboge, sap green, indigo, Prussian blue, bitumen or asphalt, bistre, sepia, and the bituminous variety of Vandyck brown. The adjective pigments include a great variety of lakes where different kinds of colouring matters of more or less acid character have been thrown upon a base, generally of colourless aluminium hydrate, aluminium phosphate, stannous hydrate, stannic oxide, bartya or lime; sometimes coloured bases containing such metals as copper, chromium, manganese or iron are introduced in small quantities. The colouring matters used are both natural and artificial. Amongst the former may be named Indian lake, from the resinous exudation produced in certain trees by the attacks of Coccus lacca; carmine, crimson and purple lake, from the colouring matter obtained from the cochineal insect, Coccus cacti; rose-madder and the madderlakes, from the alizarin and allied bodies derived from the root of the ordinary madder plant Rubia tinctorum; and yellow lakes, from quercitron bark (Quercus tinctoria), and from Persian and Avignon berries (species of Rhamnus or Buckthorn). The lakes derived from alkanet root, archil, Brazil wood, and red sanders wood are of very small interest and value. The same judgment may be pronounced upon the large number of artificial lakes which owe their colours to coal-tar derivatives, with the single exception of the important class of pigments obtained from artificial alizarin, and from its congeners and derivatives. Of these, alizarin (q.v.) itself, in its purest state and associated with alumina and a little lime, yields those pigments which possess a pink or rosy hue. When purpurin and its isomers, anthrapurpurin and flavopurpurin, are present, the red hue is more pronounced, and may even tend towards a golden colour, or, when some copper or iron or manganese is introduced, may become decidedly brown. Many of the alizarin crimsons sold as paints are not made from alizarin itself, but from the sulphonic acids of alizarin. These lakes present a wide range of hues. Another derivative of alizarin, known as 13-nitro-alizarin, yields a rich orange lake, to which such names as pure orange, orange madder and marigold have been applied.


Some notion of the relative stability of pigments will have been derived from the remarks already made under " Classification." But as permanence is of no less importance than chromatic quality in the case of pigments used in the fine art of painting, to which the present article is mainly devoted, further particulars concerning certain selected pigments, may profitably be given here. Beginning with white pigments, these three may be named as useful: white lead, Freeman's white, zinc white. As an oil-colour, white lead of the old type is generally the best to use, but among water-colours its place must be taken by zinc white in the condensed form known as Chinese white. Zinc white, in spite of the qualities which recommend its use in oil, namely, the fact of its being not only unaffected by sulphur, but odourless and non-poisonous, lacks toughness as an oil-paint, and has a tendency to scale. Freeman's white, which consists essentially of lead sulphite, is the best substitute for white lead yet devised. The small percentages of zinc white and baryta white which it contains are not to be regarded as adulterations, for they greatly increase its body, and though of less specific gravity than lead sulphate, actually raise the weight per cubic foot of the dry pigment. Out of a dozen or more familiar yellow paints, a selection may be made of these six: yellow ochre, raw sienna, mars orange, cadmium yellow, aureolin and baryta yellow. Concerning two of these, cadmium yellow and aureolin, the following observations may be set down. Cadmium sulphide, CdS, exists in two forms, which in some measure correspond to the two modifications of mercuric and antimonious sulphides. One of these forms is yellow and the other reddish orange. When sulphuretted hydrogen is sent into a weak, cold, and neutral solution of cadmium salt, the sulphide which separates is pale and yellow - the orange variety is obtained from a strong, hot, and acid solution. The pale variety is more prone to change than the darker one; but as oil colours both forms are sufficiently stable for use, provided they are pure. The value of aureolin as a pigment depends much upon its mode of preparation. A new variety of bright yellow hue was described by Adie and Wood in 1900, and is represented by the formula K2NaCo(N02)6, H 2 O. Of red pigments, six claim special mention. These are vermilion, light red, Venetian red, Indian red, red ochre, and the red lakes derived from madder or alizarin. Vermilion is stable in oils, but as water-colour paint is prone to change, under exposure to strong light, into the black modification of mercuric sulphide. The iron-reds named above, whether natural or artificial, are quite permanent, but so much cannot be said of the various madder-paints. They are of far greater stability under exposure to light than any other red organic pigments, and are absolutely necessary to the artist. It must be noted that those madder and alizarin lakes which contain an element of yellow and brown are less stable than those of a crimson hue. Five green pigments may be recommended, namely, viridian, or the emerald oxide of chromium, the ordinary green oxide, cobalt green, green ultramarine, and terre verte. Except for minor decorative work, where permanence is of secondary moment, one is obliged to exclude from the palette emerald green, green verditer, verdigris, sap-green, and the numerous preparations which owe their colour to mixtures of Prussian blue and chrome yellow, and are sold under the names of green vermilion, chrome green, Brunswick green, and so on. All these pigments usually contain much barium sulphate. Similarly, amongst blue pigments, ultramarine, cobalt blue and coeruleum may be retained, while smalt, indigo and all copper blues should be rejected. Prussian blue, or the mixture of this pigment with a white base which is usually called Antwerp blue, can scarcely be spared, but care should be taken to choose a sample containing no potassium compounds. Coeruleum, which may be described as cobalt stannate presents the peculiarity of appearing a greenish blue in artificial light, not a purplish blue like that of ordinary cobalt blue. Cobalt violet is a sound pigment, while manganese metaphosphate or Nurnberg violet is said not to be safe in oil. Mars violet, an artificially prepared ferric oxide, is dull in hue but permanent. Passing on to brown pigments, it is matter for regret that there are no permanent colours possessing the artistic capacities of asphalt, madder brown, and the old bituminous Vandyke brown. Cappagh brown, burnt sienna, and raw and burnt umber may be employed safely. Little need be said as to the selection of black pigments, for all are permanent. The soot from burning acetylene, which has recently been introduced, forms a black pigment of remarkable intensity.


Hitherto pigments have been considered chiefly in relation to the requirements of the painter of pictures. In many merely decorative arts, such as the manufacture of wallpapers and the painting of woodwork and of iron, the pigments available are in one direction, that of cost, more restricted, but, on the other hand, many alterable or weak pigments are commonly employed. In paints intended for the protection of iron-work, the nature of the pigment introduced is a matter of great moment, for red lead, zinc white and white lead are found to exert a strong protective influence, which is not observed in the case of the vast majority of pigments. There are a number of other uses besides those just named for which special pigments, or, more precisely, special paints, are employed. Amongst such preparations may be named luminous paints, anti-fouling paints, metallic paints, damp-proof paints, and asbestos and other fire-proof paints.


J. Bersch, Manufacture of Pigments, translated from the 2nd German edition by A. C. Wright (London, 1900); Cennino Cennini, The Book of the Art, translated by Mrs Herringham (London, 1899); Sir A. H. Church, Chemistry of Paints and Painting (London, 1901); G. H. Hurst, Painters' Colours, Oils and Varnishes (London, 1901); S. Mierzinski, Handbuch der Farben-Fabrikation (Vienna, 1898); Riffault (and others), Fabricant de couleurs (Paris, 1884). (A. H. C.)

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