Naples yellow is an artists' pigment
made from a lead-antimony
oxide compound. It ranges in color from sulphur-yellow to orange-yellow based on the proportion
of lead and antimony.
It was used in antiquity by the Babylonians and Egyptians, but the first record of its formulation dates from the mid 1500's.
Artists like Naples Yellow because it is very opaque and resists cracking. Unfortunately, it is also very poisonous. For this reason most Naples Yellow pigments available today are actually lead-tin yellows.
Scientific studies on the various formulations of Naples Yellow have yielded much information on when and where it was used. This data can now be used as a means of dating artwork and verifying its authenticity.