Colours And Paints. The following descriptions of some of the colours used in painting, may not be unacceptable to those of our readers engaged in drawing. They will discover what are produced from minerals, what from earths and stones, and what are extracted from vegetables. It will shew them what kinds are of an innocent, and what of a poisonous quality, and serve as a caution in the use of them.
Cinnabar is a combination of mercury with sulphur, and forms a red, heavy, and brilliant mineral, found chiefly in quicksilver mines. The common vermilion is nothing else but cinnabar, ground up with spirits of wine and urine. Cinnabar is either natice or factitious. Native or mineral cinnabar, which is that above-mentioned, though found among quicksilver, has mines of its own. Those in Spain are very famous. Each pound of good cinnabar yields fourteen ounces of mercury. The alchymists say it is disposed for attaining to the transmutation of gold. Factitious, or artificial cinnabar, is formed of a mixture of mercury and sulphur, sublimed, and thus reduced into a kind of stone. The best is of a high colour, full of fibres. This is used by farriers to make pills, for their horses ; and by painters as a colour, it being a very vivid red, but drying with some difficulty. This cinnabar is rendered more beautiful by grinding it with gum water, and a little saffron : those two drugs preventing its growing black.
Vermillion. A bright, beautiful red colour, in great esteem among the ancients, under the denomination of minium. The artificial or fictitious vermilion is made of mineral cinnabar, described above. The natural is found in some silver mines, in the form of a ruddy sand, which is prepared and purified for use. We have two kinds of vermilion from Holland, the one of a deep red, the other pale; the difference of colour only proceeding from the cinnabar being more or less ground. This is of considerable use, among the painters in oil and miniature; and likewise among the ladies, as a fucus or paint, to heighten the complexion. Among the ancients, the images of the gods were painted with vermilion on the feast days; and their generals on the days of triumph
Red Lead is an oxide of lead, calcined and rubified: used by painters, potters, and physicians. This seems to be the real minium of the ancients, which was a preparation of lead, performed by fire.
White Lead, Or Superacetate Of Lead, used by painters, is only thin plates of lead dissolved with vinegar. Every ten days the rust formed on the surface is scraped off, and again steeped, and scraped till the whole be quite consumed. Of this white had it is that the paint, used by the ladies, called Ceruse, is made. White lead is somewhat dangerous, both in the grinding and in the using, as being a rank poison.
Massicot is a yellow oxide of lead, nearly equalling Dutch pink in yielding a bright yellow, and surpassing it in durability..