- Pigment Number: PY35
- Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I
- Pigment Opacity: Opaque
- Paint Opacity: Opaque
- Series 4
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Considering the problems with bright yellows in preceding centuries it is surprising how slowly the use of Cadmium Yellow caught on. Looking at the dates it became available in different countries charts its slow but steady spread around the world. It was developed in 1817 and was first used as an artists color in France in 1820. It reached Germany in 1829, the US in 1842 and was first used in England in 1846.
Its introduction was relatively slow because while Chrome Yellow had a reputation for impermanence, paint manufacturers were busy putting a lot of effort into convincing artists that somehow their version of Chrome Yellow was a “secret recipe” that was better than all the rest even though it wasn’t. But Chrome Yellow was cheap and a very attractive golden yellow in the tube while Cadmium Yellow was expensive and it wasn’t then realized just how much better than Chrome Yellow Cadmium would prove to be.
The first recorded instance of a big name artist using Cadmium Yellow was Monet in which he used it almost pure out of the tube for some willow trees beside a river that were golden with autumn tones. I have seen that picture up close and the beauty of that big slab of Cadmium Yellow is stunning. The great permanence of Cadmium Yellow means that that yellow in Monet’s painting will not change for centuries and will appear and remain just as beautiful to brilliant to future generations.
Cadmium Yellow is now manufactured in a wide range of shades but the one we call Cadmium Yellow Medium is close to the original yellow first used in Paris back in the 1820’s. It is useful for mixing with reds to make orange. Golden yellows are common in nature from ripening wheat to beautiful bright coloured flowers. and it It can be used to “lift” ochre when showing sunlight effects anywhere in nature. There is good reason why there are few artists who do not have a tube of this reliable friend in their paintbox.