This section is from the book "Chromatography; Or, A Treatise On Colours And Pigments, And Of Their Powers In Painting", by George Field. Also available from Amazon: Chromatography, or A Treatise on Colours and Pigments, and of Their Powers in Painting.
As there are circumstances under which some pigments may very properly and safely be used, which under others might prove injurious or destructive to the work, the following Lists or Tables are subjoined, in which they are classed according to various general properties, as guides to a judicious selection. These Tables are the results of direct experiments and observation, and are composed, without regard to the common reputation or variable character of pigments, according to the real merits of the various specimens tried.
The powers of pigments therein adverted to might have been denoted by numbers; but since there is no exact and constant agreement in different specimens of like pigments, nor relatively among different pigments, it would have been an affectation of accuracy without utility: add to which, the properties and effects of pigments are much influenced by adventitious circumstances, and are sometimes varied or altogether changed by the grounds on which pigments are used, by the vehicles in which they are used, by the siccatives and colours with which they are used, and by the varnishes by which they are covered.
These Tables are therefore offered only as approximations to the true characters of pigments (some of which, for the above reasons, are liable to be disputed), and as general guides to right practice. They render it also apparent, as a general conclusion, that the majority of pigments have a mediocrity of qualification balancing their excellences with their defects, and that the number of good and eligible pigments overbalances those which ought in general to be rejected.
Of Pigments, the colours of which suffer different degrees of change by the action of light, oxygen, and pure air; but are little, or not at all, affected by shade, sulphuretted hydrogen, damp, and foul air: -
Blue . ..
Golden Sulphur of
Light Bone Brown, 4c
Remarks. - None of the pigments in this Table are eminent for permanence. No white or black pigment whatever belongs to this class, nor does any tertiary, and a few only of the original semi-neutrals. Most of those included in the list fade or become lighter by time, and also, in general, less bright.
Pigments, the colours of which are little, or not at all, changed by light, oxygen, and pure air; but are more or less injured by the action of shade, sulphuretted hydrogen, damp, and impure air: -
Common White Lead.
Blanc d' Argent
Sulphate of Lead.
Smalt, and other Cobalt Blues.
Chromate of Mercury
Common Chrome Green.
Verdigris, and other Copper Greens.
Remarks. - Most of our best white pigments are comprehended in this Table, but no black, tertiary, or semi-neutral colour.
Many of these colours, when secured by oils and varnish, etc, may be long protected from change. The pigments of this Table may be considered as more durable than those of the preceding; they are nevertheless ineligible in a water-vehicle, particularly for miniature painting, and mostly so in fresco; and most of them become darker by time alone in every mode of use. This list is the opposite of Table I.
Pigments, the colours of which are subject to change by the action both of light and oxygen, and the opposite powers of sulphuretted hydrogen, damp, and impure air: -
Pearl, or Bismuth White.
Submuriate of Mercury
Sulphate of Antimony.
Remarks. - This Table comprehends our most imperfect pigments, and demonstrates how few absolutely bad have obtained currency. Indeed several of them are valuable for some uses, and not liable to sudden or extreme change by the agencies to which they are here subjected. Yet the greater part of them are destroyed by time.
These pigments unite the bad properties of those in the two preceding Tables.
Pigments not at all, or little, liable to change by the action of light, oxygen, and pure air; nor by the opposite influences of shade, sulphuretted hydrogen, damp and impure air; nor by the action of lead or iron: -
True Pearl White.
Constant, or Barytic White.
The Pure Earths.
Rubiates, or Madder Lakes.
Blue . ..
Jaune de Mars.
Burnt Sienna Earth.
Burnt Roman Ochre.
Russet Rubiate, or Madder Brown.
Brown and neutral.
Hypocastanum, or Chestnut Brown.
Phosphate' of Iron.
Remarks. - This Table comprehends all the best and most permanent pigments, and such as are eligible for water and oil painting. It demonstrates that the best pigments are also the most numerous, and browns the most abundant, and in these respects stands opposed to the three Tables preceding.
Pigments subject to change variously by the action of white lead and other pigments, and preparations of that metal: -
Anotta, or Roucou
Carucru, or Chica.
Remarks. - Acetate or sugar of lead, litharge, and oils rendered drying by oxides of lead, are all in some measure destructive of these colours. Light, bright, and tender colours are principally susceptible of change by the action of lead.
The colours of this Table are very various in their modes of change, and thence do not harmonize well by time: it follows, too, that when any of these pigments are employed, they should be used pure or unmixed; and, by preference, in varnish: while their tints with white lead ought to be altogether rejected.
Pigments, the colours of which are subject to change by iron, its pigments, and other ferruginous substances: -
Sulphate of Lead.
Golden Sulphur of Antimony.
Prussiate of Copper.
Remarks. - Several other delicate pigments are slightly affected by iron and its preparations; and with all such, as also with those of the preceding Table, and with alt pigments not well freed from acids or salts, the iron palette-knife is to be avoided or used with caution, and one of ivory or horn substituted in its place. Nor can the pigments of this Table be in general safely combined with the ochres. Strictly speaking, that degree of friction which abrades the palette-knife in rubbing of pigments therewith is injurious to every bright colour.