List of watercolors sold in London in 1802


Ackermann's Watercolors in 1801 Full list
Robert Ackermann sold prints and books, and made watercolors as well as supplying pigments and recipes for those who wanted to make their own. His shop was described as a 'Repository of Art' and was located at 101 Strand, in London.

The following list is from his 'Treatise On Superfine Watercolors' and includes on other pages his list of pigments that include in addition to the list of prepared colors below: pink, orange lead, ultramarine, and precipitate of gold.

It should be remembered that this list was published the year before the discovery of Cobalt Blue. Artificial ultramarine was still 27 years in the future. Ultramarine here is not made up as a water color but is sold as a pigment only. This is no doubt due to its huge cost and therefore the unlikelihood that it would be purchased often. The pigment could last for many more years than the made up watercolors in the days before tubes and other reliable long term containers. Although it is not recorded here these colors were likely sold in shells (mussels shells were popular) or pigs bladders.

Some of the colors listed are fugitive plant extracts. Sap Green was one such color, being the extracted from Buckthorn berries. Iris Green was the juice from Iris flowers.
Brown Pink and Dutch Pink were both yellowish colors made from Buckthorn berries. Bister was wood tar. Needless to say most of these colors could fade within months of being used. But that is not the worst of it. There are several lead based colors here. Saturnine Red is one, Massicot another, and of course there is White lead. In oil paint the oil protects the pigment, but even then the Massicot and the Saturnine (a fancy name for Red Lead) would eventually go brown. But made up as a watercolor al 3 including the White Lead will go brown very quickly. The toxicity worry is large too, but looking further we find an even worse pigment, for Kings Yellow is basically a form of arsenic, as is Orpiment. It seems that using Mr. Ackermann's Watercolors could be very dangerous indeed. As they say, let the buyer beware.

Out of this list of 68 colors less than 20 are permanent or non poisonous.


  • Ackermann's Yellow
  • Ackermann's White
  • Antwerp Blue
  • Azure Blue
  • Azure Green
  • Bister
  • Blue Black
  • Blue Verditer
  • Bone Black
  • Brown Lake
  • Brown Ochre
  • Brown Pink
  • Brown Red
  • Burnt Carmine
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Carmine
  • Carmined Lake
  • Calcined Vitrol
  • Carnation Red
  • Carbonic Black
  • Chinese Vermilion
  • Cologn Earth
  • Crocus Martis
  • Dragon's Blood
  • Dutch Pink
  • Enamel Blue
  • Egyptian Brown
  • French Green
  • Gall Stone
  • Gamboge
  • Green Verditer
  • Green Lake
  • Green Earth
  • Indigo
  • Indian Red
  • Iris Green
  • Ivory Black
  • King's Yellow
  • Lake
  • Lamp Black
  • Light Lake
  • Light White
  • Mars Yellow
  • Massicot
  • Mineral Green
  • Olive Green
  • Patent Yellow
  • Peach Black
  • Prussian Blue
  • Prussian Green
  • Purple
  • Red Ochre
  • Red Orpiment
  • Raw Sienna
  • Rose Pink
  • Royal Smalt
  • Sanders Blue
  • Sanders Green
  • Sap Green
  • Saturnine Red
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • Vermillion
  • Violet Blue
  • White Lead
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Yellow lake
  • Yellow Orpiment
References:
Ackermann, R,   A treatise On Superfine Watercolours,   1801 (University of London Library)
Various,    Paint And Painting,   1982,  (Winsor and Newton / The Tate Gallery)
Mayer, R,   The Artists Handbook Of Materials And Techniques,    fifth edition 1991  (Faber &Faber)

Related Links:

Historic pigments

Traditional and historic palettes

Limited palettes

Ingredients of Paint



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