Prof. Theo de Beer about Lamp Black

In the section  “Prof. Theo de Beer about ….”  we share with you articles from the unpublished book of Professor Theo de Beer “Everything about art materials”. Prof. Theo de Beer managed the Old Holland company from 1982 till 2000 and made a huge contribution to its development.

Together with charcoal black, lamp black is one of the oldest black pigments we know. The Egyptians used lamp black frequently for painting the depictions that have been found in the pyramids. The Chinese used lamp black (soot black) to make their writing inks. Lamp black takes its name from the fact that the burning oil covered the oil lamp with a layer of soot. The pigment used to be made by burning resin and wood, after which the pigment was deposited on the walls of the combustion chambers. The particle size of this soot pigment is much larger than that of carbon black. The black pigment has a bluish undertone, and is now hardly ever made. It has been replaced by carbon black. Soot black from resin and wood is P.Bl.6.

Lamp black had high colour strength and was lightfast, and did not provide a strong layer of oil paint. This black has very high opacity when mixed with other colours, quickly making the black dominant. Neutral grey tones were easily made by mixing lamp black with white, because the pigment had a cool blue undertone. This black used to be widely used for making etching inks, but has now been replaced by carbon black.

Painting with Lamp Black