Cadmium yellow

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Cadmium yellow


Cadmium yellow at 100x; normal and UV light

A permanent, yellow pigment composed of Cadmium sulfide. Cadmium yellows were synthetically prepared in Germany by Friedrich Strohmeyer in 1817. The bright yellow pigments slowly began to be used as artist paints in the mid 1840s, gaining in popularity in the early 20th century. Variations in particle size and chemical composition produce as range of colors from light yellow to orange. In the 1920s, the cadmium pigments were co-precipitated with Barium sulfate to form the cheaper cadmium lithopone (cadmopone) pigments. Cadmium sulfide also occurs in minor amounts in the mineral greenockite.

Synonyms and Related Terms

cadmium sulfide; Pigment Yellow 37; CI 77191; Kadmiumgelb (Deut.); jaune de cadmium (Fr.); cadmium sulphide (Br.); giallo di cadmio (It.); amarillo de cadmio (Esp.); kitrino toy kadmioy (Gr.); cadmiumgeel (Ned.); amarelo de cádmio (Port.); cadmium lithopone; cadmopone; Aurora yellow; daffodil; radiant yellow; cadmia; Orient yellow; jaune brilliant; Cadmolith

Raman (MFA)

Cadmium yellow orange (Forbes MFA 209), 50X, 532 nm copy.jpg






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  • Toxic by ingestion and inhalation. Carcinogen.
  • M.Graham and Co. Watercolor: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Cubic or hexagonal crystals.
  • Soluble in concentrated mineral acids with the evolution of H2S. Insoluble in water.
  • May fluoresce red.
  • The tiny yellow particles (about 1 micrometer) have a high refractive index.
Composition CdS
Density 4.35 g/ml
Molecular Weight 144.48
Refractive Index e=2.506, w=2.529

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • I. Fiedler, M. Bayard, "Cadmium yellows, oranges and reds", Artists Pigments, Volume 1, R. Feller (ed.), Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1986.
  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004.
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: density = 4.35 and ref. index = 2.35-2.48
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: 'Pigments'