Stil de grain yellow

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Stil de grain yellow
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#FADA5E
sRGBB  (rgb)(250, 218, 94)
CMYKH   (c, m, y, k)(0, 13, 62, 2)
HSV       (h, s, v)(48°, 62%, 98[1]%)
ISCC–NBS descriptorBrilliant yellow
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)

Stil de grain yellow or sap green is a pigment derived from berries of the buckthorn species Rhamnus saxatilis,[2] which are commonly called Avignon berries or Persian berries after two historical areas of supply; latterly Italy was a major source. The color, whose principal chemical component is rhamnetin,[3] was formerly called pink (or pinke);[4] latterly, to distinguish it from light red "pink", the yellow "pink" was qualified as Dutch pink, brown pink, English pink, Italian pink, or French pink — the first three also applied to similar quercitron dyes from the American eastern black oak, Quercus velutina.[4] Other names are Persian Berries Lake, yellow berries and buckthorn berries.


Traditional sap green is made from both ripe and unripe buckthorn berries, and prepared in different ways. Berry harvest time, varietal, preparation method and time period of use have a lot to do with the common name used to refer to that particular hue, color, recipe or chemical composition. Extracting the coloring principle through boiling water, allows one to add different mordants, such as alum or soda, each resulting in a different hue of this color.

Unripe berries (Italian: rhamni immaturi) produces a dark brown pigment in its dense form, and turns to a bright yellow in a thin layer. It has a low lightfastness rating of about 4.[5] Ripe berries (Italian: rhamni maturi) produce a color called yellow madder, stil de grain, or yellow lake. It is not permanent and was often used for decorative painting.[6]

Most often when called sap green the color is in the form of a dyestuff, either direct from berry juice or as a lake precipitated with alum.[3] In lake form, this color is considered to fade rapidly.[7]


For use in medieval illuminated manuscripts, the color was sold in dried sheep bladders in a liquid form that resembled a dense syrup, instead of being dried and sold as powder.[8]

The first recorded use of pinke as a color name in English for this yellow pigment was in 1598.[9] The names stil de grain yellow and yellow madder came into use as the name for this yellow pigment in the early to mid-18th century, replacing the former name pinke.[10]

In the 17th century, the word pink or pinke was used to describe a yellowish pigment, which was mixed with blue colors to yield greenish colors. Thomas Jenner's A Book of Drawing, Limning, Washing (1652) categorizes "Pink & blew bice" amongst the greens (p. 38),[11] and specifies several admixtures of greenish colors made with pink—e.g. "Grasse-green is made of Pink and Bice, it is shadowed with Indigo and Pink ... French-green of Pink and Indico [shadowed with] Indico" (pp. 38–40). In William Salmon's Polygraphice (1673), "Pink yellow" is mentioned amongst the chief yellow pigments (p. 96), and the reader is instructed to mix it with either Saffron or Ceruse for "sad" or "light" shades thereof, respectively (p. 98).

It was enjoyed[clarification needed] widely in the 18th century in France and England.[8]

Modern use[edit]

Although it is used widely by name, it is rare to find a pre-made fine artist product that contains this pure pigment. Berries, ripe or unripe, as well as different versions of the lake are obtainable in powdered pigment form, although it is costly[5] compared to its substitutes. It is fugitive and therefore not ideally suited for oil color, but has survived well in manuscript form due to the natural protections from light and moisture that a book offers.

In contemporary art supplies the term sap green often indicates a mixture intending to resemble the traditional Sap Green or Stil de grain yellow. Contemporary oil colors often use coal tar lakes as a substitute.[3] In 2006 Golden Artist Colors' line of "historical colors" acrylic paint included one named "sap green", made of synthetic iron oxide, nickel complex azo, brominated and chlorinated copper phthalocyanine and nearly pure amorphous carbon.[12]

The source of this[clarification needed] color is: ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names (1955)--Color Sample of Stil de Grain Yellow (color sample #83).

See also[edit]



  • Maerz; Paul (1930). A Dictionary of Color. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Mayer, Ralph; Sheehan, Steven (1991). The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques (5th ed.). Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-83701-4.


  1. ^ Color Conversion Tool set to hex code of color #FADA5E (Pinke):
  2. ^ Maerz and Paul 1930 pp.173, 183
  3. ^ a b c Gettens, Rutherford J.; Stout, George L. (2015) [1966]. Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopedia. Dover. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-486-21597-6.
  4. ^ a b "pink, sb.5". Oxford English Dictionary. 7 (1st ed.). p. 885. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Mayer and Sheehan 1991 pp.43–44
  7. ^ Mayer and Sheehan 1991 p.56
  8. ^ a b Thompson. The Materials of Medieval Painting.
  9. ^ Maerz and Paul 1930 p.202
  10. ^ Maerz and Paul 1930 p.205; p.43 Plate 10, K2
  11. ^ Jenner, Thomas (1652). A Book of Drawing, Limning, Washing. London: M. Simmons. p. 38.
  12. ^ "Sap Green Hue". Golden Artist Colors. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011.