Derived from the use of cadmium sulphide in oil paint. Cadmium yellow creates a dense, opaque and brilliant colour as opposed to e.g. other yellows, which like zinc white, are all somewhat transparent and matte.
Cadmium yellow has become the preferred yellow by many artists who either use it straight from the tube or as a fantastic colour to mix with other paint colours.
Cadmium Yellow was discovered by Friedrich Strohmeyer in 1817. It came into use rather slowly due to the scarcity of the metal. From 1829, the colour was introduced to artists in France and Germany, but it was not until 1900 that it became widely used by artists. The post-impressionist painters Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were both very fond of Cadmium Yellow and used large quantities of the colour in their works of art. Cadmium yellow has since then been mimicked effectively in acrylics though this synthetic paint contains no cadmium sulphide like the original oil paints.
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