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Pigment Guide: Green pigments - Intro

Before mineral pigments were discovered artists struggled for pure green colours. The only option they had was copperhead (Verdigris), natural pigment found centuries ago by ancient Greeks and Romans.  Copperhead had much more disadvantages than benefits.

First of all, it’s turning dark in contact with any colour except ochre. Due to this feature in Holland, Spanish and Italian paintings of 14-17 centuries green colours even in still lives were replaced with brownish shades. Some painters avoided copperhead and tried to achieve green applying glazing techniques. They used translucent yellow on top of blue colours.

Secondly, all copper-derived paints are extremely toxic. All these led to new pigment inventions in 19th century, such as:

  • volkonskoite
  • glauconite (P.G. 23), or Sap Green
  • malachite (P.G. 39)
  • Virirdan green (P.G. 18)
  • phthalo green (P.G. 7)
  • chromium oxide (P.G.17)
  • cobalt green (P.G.19)
  • cadmium green (P.G. 14)
  • cobalt-chromium oxide-spinel (P.G. 26)

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