A yellow arsenic sulfide, a rare mineral usually described as a lemon or canary yellow or sometimes as a golden or brownish yellow. Our orpiment is an intensely bright pigment of crystalline particles from Kyrgyzstan. Learn more.
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WARNING! CONTAINS ARSENIC. Please read the MSDS for cautionary statements.
Orpiment is yellow arsenic sulfide, usually described as a lemon or canary yellow or sometimes as a golden or brownish yellow. It is designated as brilliant yellow in Munsell notation 4.4Y 8.7/8.9. Our orpiment is made from natural mineral sources near Kadamdzhay in Kyrgyzstan or Hubei Province, China, and is an intensely bright pigment of crystalline particles.
|Chinese: ci huang or shi huang (pinyin), tz'u huang or shih huang
German: Rauschgelb, Operment
Japanese: shiō, kiō, sekiō
|Artificial Pigment Names:
|English: king's yellow
French: juane royal, orpin artificiel
Russian: желтый мышьяк
|English: arrhenicum, arsenic trisulfide, arsenikon, auripigment, auripigmento, auripigmentum, jalde, operment, oropiment, yellow arsenic
French: arsenic jaune, arsenic sulfuré jaune
German: Arsenblende, Arsenikon, Auripigment, Gelbe Arsenblende
Greek: Αρρενικόν Αρδενικόν
Latin: arsenicum flavum, auripigmentum
Origin and History
It is a historical pigment identified on ancient Egyptian objects and paintings from the thirty-first to the sixth century B.C. It is mentioned in Greek and Roman literary sources. The Hellenistic Leyden papyrus described its use for late Egyptian painting, as does the Mappae Clavicula for early medieval painting. The pigment has been described in various other medieval manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.
Orpiment is a rare mineral that usually forms with realgar. The two minerals are almost always together. Crystals of orpiment are extremely rare as it usually forms masses and crusts. The masses are sometimes transparent to a degree and have a gemmy quality to them. The yellow color is unique to orpiment and can be confused only with a few other minerals. Orpiment is derived from the Latin auripigmentum, or "golden pigment." The largest quantities of orpiment were found in Turkish Kurdistan (Julamerk) and the Republic of Georgia. The orpiment in Italian painting often came from the fumaroles of mount Vesuvius and the Campi Flegrei in Tuscany. Since the later Middle Ages, the pigment was also artificially made. This pigment would most likely result from the sublimation of arsenic, or arsenic oxide, and orpiment with and without the addition of sulfur. Notable occurrences of orpiment are found today in Kyrgyzstan; Romania; Peru; Japan; Utah, the USA; and Australia.
Permanence and Compatibility
Early authorities usually described orpiment as fading readily, or at least to some degree, on exposure to light. It is said to be incompatible with lead- or copper-containing pigments. Molart studied the mechanisms of deterioration in orpiment. Several medieval painting guides do not recommend mixing orpiment with lead white, red lead, or verdigris. However, it must also be noted that it has been identified in paintings mixed with indigo, red iron oxide, azurite, Prussian blue, green bice (artificial malachite), and bice (smalt). It cannot be applied to wet plaster and hence is not recommended in wet fresco painting techniques.
Oil Absorption and Grinding
No data has been published on the oil absorption properties of orpiment. It isn't easy to grind because of its micaceous structure. For this reason, it is often relatively coarse. Adding ground glass to the pigment has been suggested to facilitate grinding and dispersion in linseed oil.
The toxicity of arsenic sulfide pigments has been known for years. Extreme caution must be used when handling the dry orpiment pigment and in any soluble form to avoid inhaling the dust or ingesting it.
|Pigment Yellow 39 (77085, 77086)
|ASTM Lightfastness Rating
|nα = 2.400 nβ = 2.810 nγ = 3.020
|Usually ships the next business day.
California Proposition 65: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Signal Word: Danger
H331: Toxic if inhaled
H334: May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled
H340: May cause genetic defects
H350: May cause cancer
H360: May damage fertility or the unborn child
H362: May cause harm to breast-fed children
H370: Causes damage to organs
H372: Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure
H410: Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects
P261: Avoid breathing dust//mist/spray.
P262: Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing.
P263: Avoid contact during pregnancy/while nursing.
P264: Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
P264: Wash skin thoroughly after handling.
P270: Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product.
P271: Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
P272: Contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace.
P273: Avoid release to the environment.
P280: Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection.
P281: Use personal protective equipment as required.
P284: Wear respiratory protection.
P285: In case of inadequate ventilation wear respiratory protection.
P301 + P310-P311: IF SWALLOWED: Immediately call a POISON CENTER or doctor/physician.
P501: Dispose of contents/container in accordance with local and national regulations.
Personal Protective Equipment:
Dust mask type N95 (US), Eyeshields, Faceshields, Gloves, type P2 (EN 143) respirator cartridges