What Does the Color Vermilion Look Like?

Vermilion is a vivid reddish-orange color. Originally, the vermilion pigment was made from grinding the mineral cinnabar, which contains mercury. Because mercury is toxic, a new synthetic pigment called cadmium red was developed in the 20th century to replace vermilion.

Vermilion pigment has been used worldwide in many different cultures for centuries. The oldest trace of the pigment was found at the Stone Age village of Catalhoyuk in modern day Turkey. Vermilion was used frequently in the art and lacquerware of China, where it is often called “Chinese Red.” It was widely used in artwork from Ancient Rome, in illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and in the paintings of the Renaissance. Vermilion has even been found in artwork from the Maya and Inca empires in Central and South America.