Crafting the whitest of whites

White has long been the most important colour in an artist’s palette.

Lead white is one of the oldest man-made pigments, with a history dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Many of the world’s most loved classical European oil paintings used lead white as a canvas primer, for mixing tints of various colours, and for creating highlights. Lead white’s contribution to the beauty of works of art inspired another use: as a pigment in make-up. Elizabeth I, Queen of England, was known to use the pigment. Unfortunately, its lead content did not make it a skin-friendly choice!

In modern times, lead has been replaced by new pigments: titanium and zinc white. Despite the evolution of the pigment, the world still appreciates the colour’s simple beauty, with white being the most popular paint choice around the globe.