Coloration - A colour chemistshistory of Western a rt Helen...

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A colour chemist’s history of Western art Helen Sklton INTRODUCTION Pigments are the raw materials of painting and art. They are insoluble particles that impart colour and some degree of hiding power over the surface to which they are applied [l]. The use of pigments and advances in their technology have influenced the development and history of Western art since its earliest forms. The creation of pigments has also been paralleled to some extent by the development of paints and binders into which the pigments could be dispersed. This paper aims to give a review of the history of art from the perspective of the pigments used to create that art and the development and influence of science and technology in art. It is not intended to be an exhaustive review of every pigment ever used for this purpose but aims to cover the most important and interesting colorants and to give the reader a taste of the long history of pigments. Chemical information on many of the inorganic pigments is given in lsble 1. PREHISTORIC ART The earliest examples of art date from around 40 OOO BC in the form of cave paintings [MI. Primitive man hied to represent aspects of his environment in paintings or carvings and these often depicted deer or bison which were hunted for food [5,6]. These images appear to have been created in a ritual way, many being overlaid one upon the other, possibly with the belief that primitive man could somehow gain power over his quarry by means of these representations. Good examples of such European palaeolithic art can be found in Lascaux in Southern France [7-111. These cave paintings have been carbon dated at around 15 BC [12,13]. Table 1 Various inorganic pigments used for artistic purposes Pigment name Chemical name Formula Blue verditer Cadmium yellow Chromic oxide Cinnabar Cobalt green Crysocolla French ultramarine Lead chromate Lead tin yellow Naples yellow Orpiment Red earth Red lead Verdigris Vermilion Viridian White lead Yellow earth Yellow lead (massicot) Zinc white Basic copper carbonate Cadmium sulphoselenide Cadmium sulphide Mercuric sulphide Copper acetoarsenite Copper silicate Lead chromate Lead antimonate Arsenic sulphide Iron oxide Lead oxide Basic copper acetate Hydrated chromic oxide Basic lead carbonate Lead monoxide Zinc oxide PCuCO,.Cu(OH), Cd(S/Se) CdS cr203 HgS CoO,,.ZnO CuSiO,.nH,O CU(CH~COO)~.~CU(ASO~)~ Na6-1~AbSi60~4S~4 PbCrO, Pb,Sn04 Pb2(Sb04)2 Fe,03.nH,0 Pb304 Cu(CH,COO),.PCu(OH), HgS Cr203.nH,0 2PbC03.Pb(OH), Fe,03.nH,0 PbO ZnO Primitive pigments Primitive man used pigments from his natural environment in painting, thus the pigments found in different areas of the world tend to vary [14]. It is thought that pigments were applied by two methods [2,15]. The first was to mix pigment with animal fat and apply it as a paint with the fingers or a reed. The second method was to blow pigment powder onto the painting surface using a hollow tube.
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course GPH 225 taught by Professor Gph225 during the Winter '10 term at DePaul.

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Coloration - A colour chemistshistory of Western a rt Helen...

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