book-70 Contents

palette-70 List of Pigments

archive-70 Web Archive:
John Talbot Dillon, Travels Through Spain, 1780. Chapter on: Kermes, Coccus, Grana.

Over 150 pigments are described by three 18th century authors. Robert Dossie was an English chemist, his The Handmaid to the Arts published in London in 1758. Jean Félix Watin was a French artist and colour merchant whose The Art of the Painter, Gilder & Varnisher appeared in Paris in 1773. Constant de Massoul was a French colour maker living in London and his Treatise on the Art of Painting and the Composition of Colours was published in London in 1797. As Dossie wrote, the pigments were all those in use by painters at the time.

The 18th century was the time of the first colour theories based on the mixing of colours, first classified as primaries and secondaries, the resulting theory of colour demonstrated by the colour circle. It was also the time of Newton’s breaking up of a ray of light to reveal the prismatic colours of the rainbow, introducing a  new understanding of colour as light. This would be taken up by 19th century painters, notably Turner and the French Impressionists, to which Impressionists’ Palettes of Light in this series is devoted.

The essays by the Editor discuss these events and innovations, presented within the 18th century theme: to classify.


Plates •1 to  •8 – Moses Harris, Prismatic Circle, 1766
I. Schiffermüller, Attempt at a Colour System, 1772
I. Newton, Prism Breaking up a Ray of Light (1704)
Classification of Pigments – Animal: Cochineal
Vegetable: Madder, Buckthorn, Indigo


Patricia Railing, Materia Pictoria – R. Dossie, Colour Classes; C. de Massoul, A View of the Different Colours Classed According to the Different Kingdoms from which they are Extracted; An 18th Century Theme: To Classify; Classification of Colour Names; Classification of Primary and Secondary Colours; Classification of the Pigments; Changing Systems of Classification.

Title Pages, Robert Dossie, The Handmaid to the Arts (1758), Jean Watin, The Art of the Painter, Gilder & Varnisher (1773), Constant de Massoul, A Treatise on the Art of Painting and the Composition of Colours (1797)

Naming the Pigments
The Pigments
 Pigment Names

Plates – •9 to •21 Classification of Pigments – Mineral


ahoua berry Red, carmine Vegetable
Antwerp blue Blue Artificial
archal/orchal Red Vegetable
Armenus lapis Blue, azur of copper Artificial
ash blue Blue Natural
asphaltum Brown Natural
azur Blue Artificial
azur of copper Blue Natural
azur green Green Artificial
azure stone Blue, lapis lazuli Artificial
azurite Blue, azur of copper Natural
barilla green verde barilde (It., Lomazzo, 1598)
verde barillo (Sp., Carducho, 1633)
bastard saffron Red Vegetable
bladder green Green Vegetable
bice Blue, bice Artificial
bistre Brown Vegetable
blue-bottle Blue Vegetable
blue verditer Blue Artificial
bleu de cendres Blue, verditer Artificial
bole Red Natural
bone black Black Animal
Bougival white White Natural
Brazilwood Red, lakes Vegetable
brown or English Brown Vegetable
brown oker Brown Natural
brown pink Yellow, stil-de-grain Vegetable
brown pink Brown, asphaltum Natural
brown-red, bole Red Natural
brown-red, Spanish Red Natural
brown stil-de-grain Brown Vegetable
calcined hartshorn White Animal
calcined, burnt vitriol Red Artificial
carmine Red Animal
caput mortuum see iron oxide group
Cassel earth or Vandyke Brown Brown Natural
ceruse White Manufactured
chalk white White Natural
cinder blue Blue Natural
charcoal black Black Vegetable
cinnabar Red Natural
cobalt blue Blue, azur Artificial
cobalt glass Blue, blue Artificial
cochineal Red, lakes Animal
Crems/Cremnitz white White Manufactured
Crocus martis Red Artificial
Dutch pink Yellow, stil-de-grain Vegetable
egg-shell white White Animal
enamel blue Blue, blue Artificial
English brown-red Red Natural
English pink Yellow, stil-de-grain Vegetable
English stil-de-grain Brown Vegetable
English vermilion Red Artificial
flake white White Manufactured
gall stones Yellow Animal
gamboge Yellow Vegetable
German black Black Vegetable
green earth Green Natural
green verditer Green Artificial
Hungary green Green Natural
India, indigo Blue Vegetable
Indian blue Blue Vegetable
Indian red, common Red Artificial
Indian red, true Red Natural
Indian saffron Yellow Vegetable
Indian yellow root Yellow Vegetable
indigo Blue Vegetable
iris green Green Vegetable
iron-oxide group
Italian earth Red , Brown Natural
ivory black Black Animal
king’s yellow Yellow Natural, Artificial
lakes Red Artificial
lamp black Black Vegetable
lapis Armenus Blue, Azurite Natural
lapis lazuli Blue Artificial
light pink Yellow Vegetable
lime white White Natural
litmus, or lacmus Blue Vegetable
logwood wash Red Vegetable
madder Red Vegetable
malachite Green, Sanders green Natural
Mars yellow Yellow Artificial
massicot, massticot Yellow Manufactured
minium Yellow, orpiment Manufactured
mountain blue Blue, azur of copper Natural
mountain green Green, Sanders green Natural
Naples yellow Yellow Artificial
ochre de rue, rut Yellow, stream ochre Natural
orange lake Red Vegetable
orpiment Yellow Natural, Artificial
peach black Black Vegetable
peachy wood Red, lakes Vegetable
pearl white White Animal
Persian earth Red Natural
powder blue Blue, blue Artificial
Prussian blue Blue Artificial
Prussian green Green Artificial
Prussian red Red Natural
realgar Yellow, orpiment Natural, Artificial
red-brown Red Natural
red lake Red, lakes Artificial
red lead Yellow, minium Manufactured
red ochre Red Natural
rose pink Red, lakes Vegetable
Rouen white
rust of iron, red see iron oxide group
safflower Red, bastard saffron Vegetable
saffron Yellow Vegetable
sanders blue Blue Natural, Artificial
   azur of copper, verditer
sanders green Green Natural
sap green Green Vegetable
saturnine red Red Manufactured
scarlet oker Red Artificial
sea green Green Colour name
shellac Red Vegetable
sienna Brown Natural
smalt Blue, blue Artificial
Spanish brown Red Brown Natural
Spanish brown-red
Spanish white White Natural
stag-horn black Black Animal
stil-de-grain Yellow Vegetable
stream ochre Yellow, Brown Natural
sun-flower blue Blue Vegetable
Troy[es] white White Natural
turnsole Blue Vegetable
tumeric Yellow Vegetable
turpeth mineral Yellow Artificial
ultramarine Blue, lapis lazuli Artificial
ultramarine ashes Blue, lapis lazuli Artificial
umber Brown Natural
Vandyke Brown Brown Natural
Venetian lake, fine Red, carmine Animal
Venetian red Red Natural, Artificial
verdigris Green Manufactured
verditer Blue, Green Artificial
vermilion Red Artificial
Verona earth Red Natural
vine black Black Vegetable
violet blue Blue Artificial
weld Yellow, stil-de-grain Vegetable
white lead White Manufactured
white of silver White Artificial
white of zinc White Artificial
yellow lead Yellow, massicot Manufactured
yellow ochre Yellow Natural
zaffre Blue, smalt Artificial

archive-120John Talbot Dillon
Travels Through Spain, 1780
Letter III
“Natural History of Grana Kermes or Scarlet Grain”

18th Century Pigments

Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Self Portait with a Straw Hat, 1790. Detail. National Gallery, London
Pigments on palette probably
White lead, Naples yellow, yellow ochre, stil-de-grain, carmine, vermilion, red ochre… azurite, “carnation” – mixed white lead and vermilion for skin tones
Entries from Watin, Dossie, Massoul (see Treatises, Biblio)

18c-small-18Flake white is indisputably the most beautiful white that can be used in Painting. When it is desired to be very fine it is necessary to grind it four different times on the porphyry with a muller in very clear water which is as clean as possible. The more it is ground the whiter it becomes. Watin.
18c-small-20 Naples yellow resembles a sandy, porous stone, its grains are of a fine Yellow. Till the present time, the supply was drawn from Naples; formerly one person furnished the whole…. It has been found that Naples Yellow is produced by art [skill], and is a metallic calx. It is now brought to equal perfection with that of Naples, by incorporating with Spanish White, calcined Alum, Salt Ammoniac and Diaphoretic Antimony, all pure. Having well pounded this mixture, put it in a flat earthen pan, which must not be var­nished, cover it, and let it remain upon a moderate fire, during seven or eight hours. Massoul.
18c-small-22Yellow ochre is a mineral earth, which is found in many places, but of different degrees of purity. When free from other earths and heterogeneous matter, it is a true yellow of moderate brightness: and, as its texture suits it for all kinds of painting, and that it will never fly in the least, it is a very valuable colour with respect to its utility, though of low price. There is no preparation of yellow oker  [sic] necessary than levigation: and for nicer purposes washing over; to undergo which its texture is extremely suitable. Dossie.
18c-small-24Stil-de-grain or Dutch pink is a yellow paste, made with a species of White Chalk or Marl. It is coloured by putting in the water, a decoction of Buckthorn berries mixed with common Alum. From this mixture, is formed a paste dry and twisted, which is called Dutch Pink. It is manufactured in Holland. Choose it tender and brittle, and of a fine golden Yellow. It is used or Oil Painting and Miniature. Massoul.
18c-small-26Carmine, Florentine, or Chinese, and all Red Lakes of a solid colour are extracted from Cochineal, Kermes, or Madder. For artificial Lakes they use Brazil and Fernambouc [Campeche] Wood. The Lake the least liable to change, is that extracted from Madder. Massoul.
18c-small-28Vermilion is artificial cinnabar. The latter is found in mercury mines and the former is made by mixing mercury with sulphur and subliming this mixture, which is found at the top of a vessel as a hard mass in long needles inclining a little towards a violet-brown. This latter should be selected when in good stones, is very heavy, bright, and well-shaped in long needles, and has a good red colour. When it has been ground for a long time it is reduced to a fine powder and gives one of the most beautiful red colours that exists. Watin.
18c-small-30Red ochre is a more or less dark red earth which is used for the greater part of painting either in oil or in distemper and for room tiles. What is most usually sold in shops as red ochre is that which has acquired this colour by calcination. It must be selected clean, brittle and high in colour. Watin.
18c-small-32Blue. When the Blue is pure, it is found either in small crystals, or irregular masses of various sizes, and then takes the name of Azur of Copper, it takes that of Azur or Mountain Blue, when united with earthy substances. In proportion as the earthy substance predominates over the calx of Copper, the Blue is lighter. Sometimes the calx of Copper, is united with Quartz; it then constitutes that substance called Armenus Lapis [Azurite], as mentioned in the article Azur Green. This substance is light, more tender and brittle than the Lapis Lazuli, and its colour will not stand fire. In order to use Mountain Blue, you must grind and wash it, and separate the little stones that are sometimes mixed with it. Massoul.