Pigments Checker 2017-09-19T10:44:14+00:00

Pigments Checker

Download this page as a pdf  Pigments Checker (84 downloads)

Updates to Pigments Checker version 4

We added 11 pigments in latest Pigments Checker v.4 and pigments are now arranged in chronological order. New pigments: stil de grain, arylide yellow 5GX, vermilion(artificial), vivianite, curcuma, manganese violet, han blue, ultramarine(artificial), iron gall ink, sepia, alizarin. Check out the new Technical Photography images and the new Reflectance spectra.

In Brief

Pigments Checker is a collection of pigments important in art history. Among all the pigments and their varieties ever used in art, this collection selects the most used from antiquity to early 1950’. Pigments Checker is a standard tool designed for Art professionals, scientists, students and conservators to evaluate and practice non-invasive techniques for pigments identification.


Criteria for selecting the pigments’ collection

One of each kind.  There are plenty of version of the same pigments. For example, the earth pigments: red and yellow ochre as well as umber,  sienna and green earth. Earth pigments extracted from different locations have slightly varying mineral content and they have been marketed over the centuries, with specific names, such as Pozzuoli red and Sinopia. Both are red ochre pigments, but from, respectively, Naples area and Cappadocia. They are characterized by their common iron oxides content but different proportions of other minerals accounting for their different hues. Pigments Checker collects just one pigment for each kind. It features just one red ochre, one yellow ochre and so on. Pigments Checker is an education tool for students and art professional learning pigments identification with affordable and simple technical tools. Distinguish among varieties of red ochre is possible but requires more advanced and costly equipment.

Highest quality. We constantly evaluate the quality of the pigments provided by a number of vendors using spectroscopic analysis. We want to be sure that Pigments Checker features best quality pigments.

Mineral and artificial. Natural ultramarine  and artificial ultramarine, cinnabar and vermilion, madder lake and alizarin. These are some examples of mineral and organic pigments which eventually were produced artificially. Pigments Checker features both the natural (mineral or organic) and the artificial versions. It is of the most interest to distinguish natural pigments from their artificial counterparts for dating works of art.  This can be achieved from microscopic and spectroscopic observations (different impurities and crystal forms).

Old recipe. We choose pigments manufactured following original recipes.

Chemical quality check.  An international team of Laboratories and Research Groups involved in Scientific Art Examination are collaborating with CHSOS to evaluate the chemical composition of each pigment. This data contributes to the Free and Downloadable spectral database of the pigments used in Pigments CheckerRaman, XRF, FTIR and XRD.

Pigments Checker (570 euro + 30 euro handling and shipping)

Pigments’ Table (version 4)

Check out the list of pigments and browse their spectra and other relevant information. CLICK HERE

ivory black
burnt sienna chrome oxide green azurite naphthol red cadmium yellow lead white
vine black burnt umber cobalt titanate green blue bice cadmium red cobalt yellow zinc white
bone black van dyke brown green earth cobalt cerulean blue red lead lead tin yellow I lithopone
lamp black raw sienna malachite egyptian blue red ochre lead tin yellow II titanium white
iron gall ink raw umber phthalo green indigo vermilion (natural) massicot gypsum
bitumen verdigris maya blue madder lake naples yellow chalk
sepia viridian prussian blue lac dye orpiment
cadmium green smalt carmine lake curcuma
ultramarine (natural) realgar yellow ochre
phthalo blue vermilion (artificial) yellow lake Reseda
cobalt violet alizarin gamboge
cobalt blue chrome yellow
cobalt chromite blue arylide yellow 5GX
manganese violet stil de grain
vivianite saffron
han blue
ultramarine (artificial)

Previous Pigments Checker versions

If you have a previous Pigments Checker you can retrieve their specific information from here:

Pigments’ Timeline

Pigments Checker - Timeline (295 downloads)

Pigments Checker Timeline provides a simplified representation of the use of the pigments across ages. Pigments’ history is actually quite complex and depends on a number of factors; The kind of artifacts. A pigment can be used on wall paintings while becoming obsolete in easel paintings. Geography. As an example, natural cinnabar is found in Almaden (Spain) and Murillo used it since it was close to him, rather than the artificial form, vermilion, much more diffused elsewhere.




Pigments Checker. Pigments Timeline. How to identify pigments. Infrared photography, ultraviolet photography, multispectral imaging, Reflectance Transformation Imaging, infrared reflectography, technical photography, reflectance spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, X-Radiography, microscopy, paintings conservation, paintings authentication.

Cardboard: cel­lu­lose and cot­ton water­color paper, acids and lignin free, not treated with opti­cal brigtheners. Slightly ultraviolet fluorescent, it reflects infrared radiation.

Swatches: 2 cross-hairs (0,2 mm) printed on each swatch of paper before application of paint, to evaluate pigments’ transparency in infrared photography.

We made Pigments Checker more durable adding a rigid finnboard support (pure wood pulp, 3 mm).


MSI calibration card

MSI calibration card

Pigments Checker comes with our new Multispectral Imaging calibration card. Commercial gray cards for photography cannot be used for multispectral imaging since they absorb near UV and violet radiation. We developed a gray card to cover the 400-1000 nm spectral range. Take our Training program and Learn how to use the calibration card with our Multispectral Imaging system.


 Technical Photography of Pigments Checker v.4

Check out technical photography images of the latest Pigments Checker. CLICK HERE.

Who purchased Pigments Checker

Institutes and businesses are purchasing Pigments Checker for research and education. Visit the Pigments Checker map to know where we shipped it. CLICK HERE

 Research papers using Pigments Checker

Check out the list of scientific papers using Pigments Checker. CLICK HERE

How to take care of your Pigments Checker?

Pigments Checker is actually a painting! So you should consider all the standard conservation procedures you would use for a painting made with historical pigments. Reduce as possible exposure to light and keep it a controlled environment with constant temperature and humidity. If you notice difference in the hue of the paint of a swatch, this is normal and it is due to the manual brush application of the paints which could provide brighter or darker areas. Some of the oldest pigments are indeed the most difficult to apply while modern age pigments allow a more uniform application.



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  1. […] aggiunto gli spettri di riflettanza dei 4 nuovi pigmenti aggiunti a Pigments Checker […]

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