Are You Curious (Yellow)? - Perspectives No. 437
Are You Curious (Yellow)?
Naples Yellow has always been a favorite pigment of ours in both oil and watercolor paints. It evokes the color of warm sunlight on a whitewashed building overlooking the Mediterranean. Naples is one of the oldest synthetic pigments, originally found in ceramic glazes and glass dating back to around 1500 BC in Egypt. Its original composition was a lead compound (lead white) mixed with an antimony (a metallic element) compound producing a very toxic but lightfast color. It had strong tinting strength and was considered chemically stable. There is no known explanation for the name “Naples”, but some speculate it is related to the yellow minerals that can be found in Mount Vesuvius on the Gulf of Naples.
Unfortunately in contemporary artist’s pigments, Naples Yellow can vary greatly, from a bright light creamy yellow to a darker earthier reddish yellow. We’ve compiled a color chart of just six brands to show some of the differences in Naples Yellow oil paints. The pigment images were taken from the internet and will vary by computer monitor. (And, of course Naples Yellow Hue will be made of entirely different components.) The pigment numbers tell the whole story. Be sure to do your own comparisons with real paint. We found it interesting that the pigments used in light, regular and dark Naples Yellow mixes vary greatly (as shown in the Winsor and Newton comparisons).
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