At Einion's request for additional info regarding oil paint characteristics and differences between genuine Naples Yellow and what is often touted as the "hue" version, PBr24, I was inspired to produce this comparison sheet and give some of my observations.
The first point I'd like to address is that PBr24 is often labeled "Naples Yellow" in various brands that refuse to produce "toxic" paints made with lead and other metal pigments. Even Michael Harding lists it as such, even though he makes two versions shown here of genuine stuff!
I feel it is unfortunate that PBr24 is associated with the concept of "hue", or imitation, because that generally means "cheap replacement" in the nomenclature of lower quality artist and student brands.
PBr24 is an outstanding pigment and deserves greater respect standing on its own. Even to call it "Gold Ochre" or some other misdirected term is unwarranted, as it behaves quite a bit differently from natural earths -- more like a synthetic Mars color. Despite the lack of respect it normally gets, in this thread it will be happily promoted simply by its pigment name whenever possible.
All the samples of PBr24 shown here are very opaque, nearly equal to cadmiums in covering power. All samples have excellent pigment load.
The column on the left shows five examples of undiluted single pigment PBr24. From top to bottom:
Vasari Tuscan Yellow
Mussini Naples Yellow Deep
Old Holland Naples Yellow Deep Extra
Vasari Naples Orange
Harding Naples Yellow (quote marks added for ironic purpose)
For those unfamiliar with my procedure: I mix up the original paint "nut" with my palette knife -- to the paint remaining on the end of the knife, I pick up a roughly equal amount of white paint and mix these together 50/50. To that new mix on the end of the knife, I again add an equal amount of white, and so on. This gives a good idea of the hue and the relative tinting strength.
The white used is fairly neutral in strength, hue and opacity -- a mixture of about 50/50 lead + titanium with some Graham Walnut Alkyd added on the palette to improve mixing. I base the photo color balance on this white.
Comments on the PBr24 paints:
Vasari Tuscan Yellow -- Very deep yellow, moving toward orange, and strong tinting strength. Very smooth and easy to brush. An outstanding color like no other in my collection.
Mussini Naples Yellow Deep -- Most muted of the samples shown, with moderate tinting strength. Closest color match to genuine Naples Yellow Dark versions, but slightly darker and stronger tinting. Slightly stiffer consistency than Vasari, but still creamy and not waxy.
Old Holland Naples Yellow Deep Extra -- Slightly lower chroma, but intense tinting strength -- runner-up to Harding for best tinting strength. Very stiff and firm, but not waxy.
Vasari Naples Orange -- This particular sample is atypical of the consistency of the Vasari line -- it shows as being "soupy". Despite that very long consistency, it has very good tinting strength and wonderful blending. Slightly stronger than the Mussini, but similar hue.
Harding Naples Yellow -- I rate this sample as the best of the choices shown here. Chroma is intense and tinting strength is unsurpassed. Wonderful orange hue in the tints.
If I were to choose two from this selection, it would be Vasari's Tuscan Yellow at the top, and Harding's Naples Yellow at the bottom.
Genuine Naples Yellow
I've added Blockx Venetian Red to a set of mixes with the various Naples offerings. The reasoning being that most people attracted to genuine Naples are likely purists who will be interested in skin tones in portraiture, where mixes of Naples and earth reds truly shine. It might take some close observation to see differences between the various Venetian Red mixes, as it so easily dominates the Naples Yellow.
The Blockx Naples Yellow samples were generously provided directly from Jacques Blockx. They came as small sample tubes of around 5ml to 10ml in size. These are part of the hard-to-come-by, and extremely expensive, Blockx Historical Pigments, which include genuine Vermilion and Lapis Lazuli, all of which were donated to provide this exposure and comparison between brands. Special thanks to the Blockx company and Jacques in particular.
I've added Robert Doak's genuine Lead-Tin Yellow to the bottom of the columns. Although it is not a Naples Yellow, it is likewise a Histoical Pigment in the same family, sharing some the same chemistry. I needed to dilute the paint with the Walnut Alkyd because it is so stiff from the tube (not polymerized, just very thick paste!).
It will be easy to notice that the genuine Naples pigments have greatly lower tinting strength. For subtle applications, like skin tones, this is a decided advantage over stronger tinting colors, making delicate transistions easier to achieve.
Here are the paints and my comments:
Harding Naples Yellow Light -- The brightest, lightest of the Naples samples -- very high chroma from the tube. Consistency is buttery smooth with stiff short peaks. Semi-opaque.
Vasari Naples Yellow -- Slightly lower chroma than the Harding version, but greater tinting strength. Slightly pastier consistency than Harding, but creamy and good at blending. More opaque than Harding.
Blockx Naples Yellow Light -- Your eyes are not deceiving you -- the hue is slightly greenish! A very unusual color. Both Blockx samples are ground in poppy oil, which helps keep the colors as bright as possible, and the consistency is beyond compare -- so smooth and easy to spread. Tint strength and opacity is on par with Vasari, and above Harding, but still, weak in both as is the nature of this pigment. Interesting that the mix with Venetian goes slightly darker and slightly more neutral as the green in the Naples partially neutralizes the red in the Venetian.
Blockx Naples Yellow Dark -- Strongest tinter and best opacity of all the Naples samples shown. Highest chroma mix with Venetian. Outstanding handling -- perfect. This should be included in an Oil Paint Hall of Fame for its making, handling and historical fidelity.
Harding Naples Yellow Dark -- Our readily available alternative to the Blockx verison above. Tinting strength and opacity are quite a bit less than the Blockx, but color is very good, especially from the tube. Handling is a match to the Light version -- very smooth and creamy.
Doak Lead-Tin Yellow -- Another historic lead-based yellow. Similar in hue to the Naples (lead-antimony), but better opacity and about equally weak tinting strength. Very stiff consistency, with slight grit from the ceramic glaze basis of the pigment.
Of the readily available genuine Naples, Vasari is my favorite. If price was no object, the Blockx Dark version would be in my paint drawer as well.