Deterioration of yellow cadmium sulphide artists’ paints

Dr Aviva Burnstock

close-up of painting
Van Gogh Self Portrait  1889


close-up of material


The project examines the deterioration of cadmium sulphide yellow pigments used in artists paints. The investigation included identification of the pigment in paintings, including works by George Seurat and Vincent van Gogh, and associated colour and surface changes in the paintings.


This is combined with an experimental study of historical and modern examples of the pigment, prepared in a range of binding media, and artificial aged to characterise the changes that may occur on ageing.

The images below show Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) images of these deteriorated pigments.

SEM image of Cornelissen Light
Cornelissen Light


SEM image of CdS Yellow
CdS Yellow


SEM image of Field 1852
Field 1852


Back to Conservation and Technology main page