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Pigment Guide: Indian Yellow

Indian yellow (NY 20) has being known in painting industry since 15th century, when it was introduced into India from Persia. Initially pure Indian yellow was made from cow urine fed mostly with mango leaves and water. However, in 1908 India stopped and banned manufacturing of this colour in India, and nowadays what we have under Indian Yellow name is an imitation of the same shade as an original one.

Indian yellow is a warm yellow colour varying from golden ochre to orange shades, which is ideal for glazing techniques due to its transparency and high light fastness.


In watercolours Indian Yellow (HUE) is usually represented by Aureoline (PY 40), in oil paints – by Yellow Iron Oxide (PY 42) or by mixture of Arylide Yellow (PY 73) and Nickel Complex Azo (PY 150)or Azo Condensation Yellow (PY 128). Sometimes it’s made with Diarylide Yellow (PY 83, PY 87 and PY 97).
Anyways, we’ll never find real Indian Yellow in stores; it’s just an imitation of a very famous and popular colour. Every manufacturer has its own secret how to produce a certain colour. And remember: the less number of pigments used in any mixture the better.


For MasterClass oil paints our respected manufacturer for Indian Yellow uses just two pigments: Diarylide Yellow (PY 83) and Synthetic Iron Oxide Red (PR 101). Winsor&Newton uses Synthetic Iron Oxide Red (PR 101) and Isoindoline Yellow (PY 139), while Gamblin uses Diarylide Yellow (PY 83). Our Italian supplier, Maimeri, uses Diarylide Yellow (PY 97) and Perinone Orange (PO 43).

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