A J Ludlow Professional Watercolour Davy's Grey

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Product information

Davy’s Grey

Colour Number:  45

Pigment Details: Hydrated Aluminium Silicate / Colour Index Pigment Black 19 (C.I. PBk19)

Davy’s Grey Professional Watercolour is prepared using Cornish slate powder, which is a hydrated aluminium silicate.  The pigment has been selected for its light fastness and authenticity, making it ideal for use in A J Ludlow’s Professional watercolour range.

Davy’s Grey (also referred to as Davy’s Gray) was developed by London based colourmen Messrs Winsor and Newton at the suggestion of an English artist, Henry Davy using a special variety of powdered slate (Pigment Compendium page 145).  Henry Davy (1793-1865) was a pupil of the English marine and landscape painter John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) famed for his distinctive use of watercolour. Davy, born in Westhall, Suffolk spent the majority of his life recording the architecture and scenes in and around east Suffolk.  Some of his surviving work can be found in various public collections in Suffolk (artuk.org) and publishing etchings in the book, “A Series of Etchings Illustrative of the Architectural Antiquities of Suffolk (1827).  Davy produced 200 etchings between 1835-1849 and 44 lithographs between 1850 and 1864, many of which are rare, due to small print runs and the destruction of the plates on his death.  He also produced and made journalistic illustrations of local events.  His biography makes no mention of the grey or gray that was named after him but credits him with 134 detailed prints of east Suffolk churches that still assist architects today (Blatchly).

As a pigment, slate powder has poor tinctorial strength and so modern versions of “Davy’s Gray” are a blend of pigments in order to achieve the distinctive colour, but more importantly to boost the tinctorial strength of the resultant colour.  Several different pigment mixtures have been used for watercolour over the years, which are also different to those used in oil; these include:

watercolour - chromium oxide (C.I.PG17)/amorphous carbon (C.I.PBk6)/zinc oxide (C.I.PW4);

watercolour - chromium oxide (C.I.PG17)/ amorphous carbon (C.I.PBk6) /slate powder (C.I.PBk19)/zinc oxide (C.I.PW4);

oil - slate powder (C.I.PBk19)/ iron oxide (C.I.PY42)/ carbon (C.I.PBk7);

oil - natural earth (C.I.PG23)/ zinc oxide (C.I.PW4)/ natural iron oxide (C.I.PBr7).

So, in the quest to provide a relatively strong colour in both watercolour and oil colour ranges, it is not surprising that the hue varies between manufacturers, as does the feel and characteristic of “Davy’s Gray”.

A J Ludlow's Davy's Grey Professional Watercolour is a single pigmented grey, using Cornish slate powder from one of the oldest quarries in Britain.


Eastaugh N, Chaplin T, Siddall R, Walsh V, “Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary and Optical Microscopy of Historic Pigments”, Routledge, Abingdon 2013

Accessed on 11/11/2019 - Blatchly J M, “Davy, Henry (1793-1865)” at https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-7313

Accessed on 11/11/2019 - https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/search/actor:davy-henry-17931865/page/2

Technical specifications

Size 15ml
Brand A J Ludlow


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