Cassel brown

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A naturally occurring dark brown earth named for a city in central Germany. Cassel earth, also known as Vandyke brown, contains organic humus or coal material mixed with iron oxides, alumina, and silica. When ignited, the pigment leaves a soft gray residue. The colorant is fugitive and fades on exposure to strong light.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Cassel earth; Natural Brown 8; CI 77727; pardo Van Dyke (Esp.); brun de Cassel (Fr.); marrone di Cassel (It.); Cassel's earth; Kassel earth; Cologne earth; Vandyke brown; Castle earth; Castile earth; Cullens earth; Colens earth; Collens earth

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Slightly soluble in oil.
  • Discolors in alkalis turning grayish.

Resources and Citations

  • Georgiana Languri, Molecular studies of Asphalt, Mummy and Kassel earth pigments, MOLART report 2004, available through Archetype Publications, London.
  • Helmut Schweppe, Schweppe color collection index and information book
  • M. Doerner, The Materials of the Artist, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 558
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Colour Index International online at