Chrome yellow

/ krome   yel • low /

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Painted swatch of Chrome yellow.

Brief description of Chrome yellow:

Relatively inexpensive yellow pigment with high covering power but with only fair lightfastness and chemical stability. The chrome colors were in use by 1816 but on a limited basis. Because the pigment tends to oxidize and darken on exposure to air over time, and it contains lead, a toxic, heavy metal, it has been largely replaced by another pigment, cadmium yellow.

Names for Chrome yellow:

Word origin: The name "Chrome yellow" comes from The name of the chemical element from which comes the names chrome yellow and chrome orange,  is derived from the Greek word "chrōma" (χρωμα), meaning color, because many of its compounds are intensely colored. It was discovered by Louis Nicolas Vauquelin in the mineral crocoite (lead chromate) in 1797. Crocoite was used as a pigment, and after the discovery that the mineral chromite also contains chromium this latter mineral was used to produce pigments as well. .
Non-English names:
German French Italian
Chromgelb jaune de chrôme giallo de cromo
Origin: artificial
Chemical name:



Example of use by artists:

Sir Thomas Lawrence, pioneer of chrome yellow

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of a Gentleman (1810), Marguerite Singer Smith, Connecticut, USA

By 1809, when Vanquelin piblished his full investigation of the color chemistry of chromium in the now-prestigious Annales de chimie, chrome yellow was already on the artists' palette. It appears, for example, in Thomas Lawrence's Portrait of a Gentleman, painted in 1810.