A synthetic pigment composed of lead antimonate, it is produced in a range of yellows from lemon to a dusty yellow-orange. Although occuring naturally as the min- eral bindheimite it has been produced synthetically as a pigment from 1500 BC. It is, together with Egyptian Blue, one of the oldest synthetic pigments known.
Lead antimonate yellow has been identi ed in objects from Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, and Celtic cultures.
The pigment name comes from stories of the mineral being found on Mount Vesuvius near Naples. Since other yellowish minerals occur on the volcano this is a plausible but unlikely explanation, as no natural lead antimonate has ever been found there.
The pigment is made by a simple process of heating lead and antimony compounds together.
In Western European art, Naples Yellow has been in use for painting from about 1600. It was most frequently used during the period 1750-1850 after which it was gradually replaced by the chromes and cadmiums.
Genuine Naples Yellow continues to be manufactured in limited quantities but the name “Naples Yellow” is now used by most paint manufacturers to indicate a color shade made by mixing together other pigments, such as cadmium yellow, zinc white, and red ochre.