A pigment is something that is added to something else to give it color. Natural pigments can come from just about anything. Pigments can be made from animals, plants, rocks and minerals or even the ground itself, for example clay plus salts. Pigments can also be created by people.
The first synthetic dye was aniline. Aniline is an organic chemical compound produced in two stages from benzene. It gives a mauve color which was much used for dyeing clothes in the 19th century. It was invented in 1856 by William Henry Perkin. Apparently, it gave a brilliant fuchsia color when first applied, but fades rapidly to mauve.
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1665).
- Druding, Susan C. 1982. Dye history from 2600 BC to the 20th century.