"An ancient color used since the days of the hanging gardens of Babylon. In early times it was simply collected from the sides of volcanoes as it occurs naturally in volcanic conditions. Synthetic production of the color started in the Renaissance around the time of Leonardo da Vinci. The pigment had many likeable qualities including great permanence and like White Lead it increased the flexibility of oil paint. Unfortunately it also had a major problem - it was one of the most highly toxic pigments known. These days, health concerns have lead to its replacement with mixtures of ochre with white to give the soft yellow color that artists love so much.
Matisse Naples Yellow Light is a non-toxic mixture of white with ochre and Deep Yellow, it is an opaque rich cream color that owes its popularity to its versatility as a lightener. Over-use of pure white to lighten a color can drain a color of much of its vitality and in some cases, such as reds, it can completely alter the color. Thus, reds become pinks when white is added. For this reason a wise artist uses white as the lightener of as a last resort and instead tries to lighten colors by first using a color which is lighter, nearby on the color wheel, and yet retains a richness Naples Yellow is very useful for lightening ochres, yellows, oranges, and yellowish reds. Mixed with a scarlet it makes beautiful salmony like colors equally useful in skin colors and sunset skies. Mixed with blues it can produce the soft greens found in many trees, especially where sunlight is on the foliage. This versatility has made it a popular artist???s choice for millennia.