Dutch Pink

Current name

Information from the Getty AAT

Dutch pink (pigment)

A transparent yellow lake pigment used since the 16th century. It was initially extracted from unripe buckthorn berries (rhamnetin), and later from oak bark (quercitron).


Dutch Pink is a transparant lake pigment of yellow colour extracted from a plant. For the production of the pigment often unripe Buckthorn berries (‘buckthorn’ Rhamnus catharticus or ‘Persian or Avignon berries’ Rhamnus infectorius) or oak bark (quercitron bark or Querca tinctoria) were used. Weld (Reseda luteola L.) and dyer’s broom (Genista tinctoria L.) could also be used. The extracted dye is mordanted on chalk, alum or another calcium-containing substrate. Pigments extracted from buckthorn gave a darker and warmer yellow, than those obtained from weld and broom. Kirby (2010) notices that many local plants provide yellow dyes and that they could have easily been used as well. The yellow-coloured lake pigments in the nineteenth century varied from acid yellow, produced from weld and broom, to warmer and darker tints, produced from buckthorn or oak. If yellow lake is the lightest yellow lake pigment and yellow carmine the darktest, then Dutch and English Pink is in the middle (Easthaugh, 2008). With respect to the name ‘pink’ Easthaugh further remarks that it might be a derivation of the German word pinkeln, meaning ‘to piss’. It is thought that the Dutch ‘Schijtgeel’ and its variants refers to the colour resembling (baby) excrement. The German variations, ‘Schüttgelb etc., might relate to the pharmacological properties of the buckthorn berries. Arzica could have come from the Greek arsenicon, referring to substitute of similar colour, Kirby writes.

See for more:

Eastaugh, Nicholas, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, “Dutch Pink” in Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary of Historical Pigments, (Oxford: Elsevier, 2008), 150.

Kirby, Jo, Susie Nash, and Joanna Cannon, eds. 'the appendix: Pigment Glossary', “Lake, yellow", in Trade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700. (London: Archetype Publications, 2010), 451.


Other names: 
Schijtgeel (Dutch), schitgèèl (Dutch), schitgeel (Dutch), lake yellow (English), pinke (English), ancorca (Spanish for ocre), arzica (Greek), azicha (Greek), giallo santo (Italian), pincke (English), pynck (English), pynke (English), scheijtgeel (Dutch), Schietgelb (German), Schitt Gelb (German), Schüttgelb (German), English pink (English), Italian pink (English), stil de grain brun (French), stil de grain vert (French)
Historical names