Weld dye

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Yellow in woman's shawl
MFA 59.22
Dye mixtures of weld juice


A natural yellow dye extracted from the flowers, leaves and stems of the dyer's rocket plant, Reseda luteola. Weld has been used since Roman times and was widely cultivated in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was the most popular yellow dye until it was replaced by Quercitron (18th c.) and by synthetic dyes (19th c.). The primary coloring matter in weld is Luteolin; it is extracted in a hot alkaline solution made with boiling water and Potash. Depending on the Mordant, weld produces colors ranging from bright yellow (Tin) to gold (Aluminum) to green (Iron). Although weld has the best lightfastness of any natural yellow, it still is not permanent. Weld was used to dye Wool and Silk, stain Wood, and make lake pigments used in miniature paintings.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Reseda luteola; Natural Yellow 2; gaude (Fr.); Gelbkraut (Deut.); Erba guada (It.); gualda (Esp.); woude (Ned.); extract de gaude; wau; wanda; wold; woulds; arzica; gaude yellow; dyer's mignonette; lutum; wild woad; luteolin; dyer's rocket; dyer's weed; sawwort; yellow weed;

Physical and Chemical Properties

Luteolin is soluble in ethanol, hot water, ethyl ether, alkali solutions.

Resources and Citations

  • J.Hofenk-de Graaf, Natural Dyestuffs: Origin, Chemical Constitution, Identification, Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science, Amsterdam, September 1969.
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Helmut Schweppe, Schweppe color collection index and information book
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Palmy Weigle, Ancient Dyes for Modern Weavers, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1974
  • R. Newman, E. Farrell, 'House Paint Pigments', Paint in America , R. Moss ed., Preservation Press, New York City, 1994
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980
  • F. Crace-Calvert, Dyeing and Calico Printing, Palmer & Howe, London, 1876
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996
  • J. Thornton, 'The Use of Dyes and Colored Varnishes in Wood Polychromy', Painted Wood: History and Conservation, The Getty Conservation Insitute, Los Angeles, 1998
  • Colour Index International online at www.colour-index.org
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 283
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985

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