Mummy brown was a rich brown bituminous pigment, intermediate in tint between burnt umber and raw umber, which was one of the favorite colors of the Pre-Raphaelites.[1]


Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline[2], one London colourman claiming that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy. It fell from popularity in the early 19th century when its composition became generally known to artists[3]. It was also considered extremely variable in its composition and quality, and since it contained ammonia and particles of fat, was likely to affect other colours that it was used with.[4]

Mummy brown was produced up into the 20th century until the supply of available mummies gave out.[1]

Present dayEditar

The modern pigment sold as "Mummy brown" is composed of a mixture of kaolin, quartz, goethite and hematite, the hematite and goethite (generally 60% of the content) determining the color - the more hematite the redder the pigment - with the others being inert substances that can vary the opacity or tinting strength.[citation needed] The color of Mummy brown can vary from yellow to red to dark violet, the latter usually called Mummy Violet.[5]

See alsoEditar


  1. 1,0 1,1 "The Passing of Mummy Brown", TIME, 1964-10-02,,9171,940544,00.html 
  2. Adeline, Jules; Hugo G. Beigel (1966). The Adeline Art Dictionary. F. Ungar Pub. Co. 
  3. Church, A. H. (1901). The Chemistry of Paints and Painting. London: Seeley and Co.. 
  4. Field, George (2008). Field's Chromatography. BiblioBazaar, LLC. pp. pp. 254–255. ISBN 1434669610. 
  5. Mummy Brown. Retrieved on 2008-02-08.


  • Eastaugh, Nicholas (2004). Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary of Historical Pigments. Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. p. 81. ISBN 0750657499. 
  • Church, A. H. (1901). The Chemistry of Paints and Painting. London: Seeley and Co.. 
  • Mayer, Ralph (1945). A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques. New York: Harper and Row Publishers. 

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