Uranium yellow

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French sculpture
MFA Acq# 1998.401


Toxic, yellow-orange powder used as a pigment for ceramics and Glass before 1944. Uranium yellow, or uranium trioxide gives a bright transparent yellow with a green Fluorescence. The expensive, but permanent, pigment may also have been used in mineral painting. Currently, uranium pigments for glazes are made from depleted uranium oxide.

Synonyms and Related Terms

uranium trioxide; amarillo de uranio (Esp.); jaune d'uranium (Fr.); amarelo de urânio (Port.); uranium oxide; yellowcake; yellow cake


  • Highly toxic by ingestion and inhalation.
  • Human carcinogen.
  • Radioactive.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Composition UO3

Resources and Citations

  • M. Doerner, The Materials of the Artist, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934
  • R. Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Viking Press, New York, 1981
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 835
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 9997
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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