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Organic PigmentsOrganic PigmentsWhat is a Pigment?What are Organic Pigments?Historic Use of Organic PigmentsRelated Links and ResourcesReferences<p>Paint is composed of at least three components, a pigment, a binder, and a diluent. Pigments are colored particles that are insoluble in their binders. The earliest pigments were simply ground colored earths and soot. In the ancient world, relatively simple compounds like lead white were synthesized and natural organic colorants were discovered and employed. Many new pigments were created during the Industrial Revolution. Organic pigment synthesis began in the nineteenth century. Modern pigments are produced through sophisticated chemical processes and engineering. Pigment identification can help to date a work of art or cultural artifact, especially if the pigment was manufactured only recently.</p><p>Organic pigments are labeled “organic” because they are primarily composed of the element carbon. Most organic pigments require some form of processing. With the exception of carbon black, most early organic pigments were derived from natural dyes extracted from plants and animals. Dyes may be soluble in their binders, so dyes were usually struck onto an inorganic substrate, often aluminum hydroxide, to create an insoluble particle. Organic pigments can be quite brilliant in color but may not be lightfast and may fade over time. Fading was especially characteristic of early organic pigments.</p><p>The term "lake" pigment is also used to describe organic pigments make by striking an organic dye onto an inorganic substrate. The name lake comes from "lac" or shellac which was the source of a highly prized organic red lake.</p><p>​Carbon blacks from burnt wood have been identified on ancient cave paintings. In antiquity, Tyrian purple was derived from Mediterranean snails, and other organic colorants were obtained from bark, plants, and insects. Pigments were made from kermes and Polish cochineal insects native to Europe. These were largely supplanted by colorants made from North American cochineal insects after they were first imported in the early sixteenth century. Indigo pigments from Indian indigo and European woad were popular as more affordable alternatives to the costly mineral blues.  Indigo colorants became less important after the synthesis of Prussian blue in the eighteenth century. Tarry materials such as asphaltum or bitumen have been used periodically in Western painting, but coal tars dry poorly and generally cause significant problems when used in oil paint.  Probably the most interesting organic pigment is Indian yellow. It was created by collecting the urine of cows that were fed only mango leaves. The super-charged urine was then boiled to precipitate the pigment. Cows so treated did not live very long, and the creation of Indian yellow was outlawed in the early twentieth century. Organic synthesis which began in the nineteenth century allowed for the creation of hundreds of new dyes. Most of these were not stable to light and rapidly faded. New lightfast organic pigments were synthesized in the twentieth century.</p><p><a href="/Documents/OrganicPigmentsUVChart.pdf">Organic Pigments UV Chart</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/making-colour/">Making Purple: The Science of Art</a></p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqx5EHKfKtI">Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color</a></p><p><a href="http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/">Pigments Through the Ages: Webexhibit</a></p><p><a href="http://www.winsornewton.com/about-us/our-history/history-of-pigments/">History of Pigments: Winsor & Newton</a></p><p><a href="http://www.artcons.udel.edu/public-outreach/historic-art-materials/blue-purple-dyestuffs">Blue & Purple Dyestuffs</a></p><p><a href="http://www.artcons.udel.edu/public-outreach/historic-art-materials/yellow-dyestuffs">Yellow & Green Dyestuffs</a></p><p><a href="http://www.artcons.udel.edu/public-outreach/historic-art-materials/red-dyestuffs">Red Dyestuffs</a></p><p>Berrie, B., ed. <em>Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics, Vol. 4. </em>Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art. 2007.</p><p>Eastaugh, N., V. Walsh, T. Caplin, and R. Siddall. <em>Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary of Historical Pigments</em>. Oxford, GB: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. 2004.</p><p>Eastaugh, N., V. Walsh, T. Caplin, and R. Siddall. 2004. <em>Pigment Compendium: Optical Microscopy of Historical Pigments</em>. Oxford, GB: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. 2004.</p><p>Feller, R. L. ed. <em>Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics,</em><em>Vol. 1. </em>Washington, DC: The National Gallery of Art. 1986.</p><p>Fitzhugh, E. F. ed. <em>Artists’ pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics, Vol. 3. </em>Washington, DC: The National Gallery of Art. 1997.</p><p>Graaff, Judith H., and Wima G. Th. Roelofs. <em>The Colorful Past:: Origins, Chemistry, and identification of Natural Dyestuffs. </em>London: Archetype Publications. 2004.</p><p>Kirsh, Andrea, and Rustin S. Levenson, <em>Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies</em>. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.</p><p>Roy, A. ed. 1993. <em><em>Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics</em>, Vol. 2.</em> Washington, DC: The National Gallery of Art. 1993.​</p>A summary of the history and characterization of organic pigments.

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