Week 6 – Looking At Lead Antimony Yellow

Apr 24, 2020

Welcome back, everyone!

This week I continued my color research with lead-antimony yellow — more commonly known as Naples yellow. Naples yellow is one of the oldest synthetic pigments, with its use dating back to Ancient Egypt. It was initially used primarily in colored glass or glazes, but became a popular pigment for oil paint in Europe during the Renaissance. After this period of popularity, Naples yellow was gradually replaced by lead chromate and cadmium sulfide yellows as it fell out of use in the 1850s. This, in combination with later health concerns, led to a drop in its popularity, although it is still used today.

As the name “lead-antimony yellow” may suggest, this pigment contains lead, which is toxic. It is certainly not the only toxic pigment to be used throughout history and researchers always use safety precautions when handling those materials. While you can still buy genuine Naples yellow, lead and all, many manufacturers sell alternatives under the same name. So if any of my fellow artists remember using Naples yellow recently, don’t panic, you’re probably safe.

That’s all I have for this week. I’m nearly done with my map data collection!

3 Replies to “Week 6 – Looking At Lead Antimony Yellow”

  1. hadleyrowland says:

    Just don’t eat the paint like Van Gogh and you should be safe.

  2. Alan Y. says:

    Thanks for the historical context behind lead-antimony yellow! That’s really cool! Best of luck with the rest of your map data collection!

  3. hadleyrowland says:

    Working in stained glass – there is a lead component – Just wash your hands after working with it.

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