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Top Rated Most Expensive Oil Paint Color & Prices List

Oil paint is simple! At its most basic, it’s just a mixture of oil and pigment. But depending on the color and quality, a liter of this paint could cost you between $285 USD and $1,000 USD.

So, what is it that creates this paint so unique and own of its kind, and why is it so expensive?

Reasons Why Oil Paint Is So Expensive? 

Oil paint has been used for decades. It’s made from a drying oil, like flaxseed, and pigment, sometimes with fillers and thickeners added. When mixed and crushed, these ingredients bind and thicken to form permanent paint. While the rise of oil painting is associated with the Renaissance, paintings using poppy-seed oil have been dated as far back as seventh-century Afghanistan. But there’s one key reason this paint hasn’t ever been cheap because Pigments cost a lot of money.

1. Dry Pigment Oil & Ingredients

So, in a good oil paint, you’re going to be looking for a high pigment loading and a good-quality pigment in that high pigment loading. So, it doesn’t matter if you have loads of pigment if it’s a bad-quality pigment. You’re looking for light fastness so it doesn’t fade, and tests on light fastness that have been going on for generations, in fact, for some pigments, so you’re not going to create a masterpiece and then 50 years down the line it’s completely washed out.

Dry Pigment Oil Ingredients

The highest-quality oil paint can be up to 75% pigment, and throughout history, the most sought-after pigments have been worth far more than their weight in gold. And that’s because they take a lot of work to discover and to make.

2. History, Famous Colors in Oil Paint

The favorite imperial color in Roman times, Tyrian purple, was a bright pigment made from the glands of sea snails, and it could take 12,000 snails to make just 2 grams of the color. Indian yellow was originally made from the urine of cows fed only on mango leaves, and in the 16th to 19th centuries, mummy brown was actually made with the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, and while the color was perfect for some flesh tones, we quickly ran out of mummies to use.

Famous and Historical Colors in Oil Pant

Pigments do dramatically change the cost, and in professional levels, you’ll have series, so you’ll have probably a series one, well, up to series seven. The higher the number, the more expensive it is. And that’s due to the pigments, how difficult they are to obtain, where they come from, and also how in-demand they are as a product in the real world.

3. Ultramarine: The Most Precious & Expensive

Possibly the most valuable, though, was ultramarine, literally meaning “beyond the sea,” as it had to be mined in Afghanistan. It was made from lapis lazuli, which in its purest pigment form can still cost up to $30,000 per kilo. The gemstone was used to make the pigment until a synthetic version was created in 1826, and the vibrant blue was valued so highly in the Renaissance that it was generally reserved for painting the robes of the Virgin Mary.

Ultramarine oil paint

Synthetic versions of many of these pigments have now been created, and while this means many are cheaper, some can still be difficult to produce. Cobalt blue, for example, has to be made by heating its components to 1,200 degrees Celsius. And once you have these pigments, they’re tricky to work with. Winsor & Newton has been making oil paints for almost 200 years, and its factory in France produces over 5 million liters of paint each year.

4. Oil Paint Production Process

In fact, produce paint is like cooking. So here you have mixing, so producers are mixing components like pigments and other additives like oil and then milling. So, it depends. Producers are using different type of machines So they are using granite, ceramic, or steel. Testing the viscosity of the grain and, of course, the color.

oil paint process

In this process every single pigment you need to handle it in a particular way. And it will need a particular amount of oil with it, and that ratio changes for every pigment. And you’re going to need to grind it to a particular fineness, and actually even with the same pigment the milling and the grinding will affect the color you have. Either, if you over grind you might end up with something duller, or with another color if you grind it very fine; you might end up with a purple rather than a blue.

  • The research and testing for these colors can take months or even years to get right.
  • Small samples of each color are made in a lab to measure consistency and light fastness.
  • Above all else, the quality of oil paint needs to be reliable, as professional artists need to guarantee that what they’re working on now will last for hundreds of years.

Oil Paint Colors Prices

1. Dry Pigment Oil

Color is utilized to make an assortment of painting media, for example, oils, acrylics, watercolors, egg gum based paint, Cold Wax, and encaustic. This type of paint will be costing about in the range of 30$ to 40$.

2. History, Famous Colors in Oil Paint

The most loved royal tone in Roman occasions, Tyrian purple, was a splendid shade produced using the organs of ocean snails, and it could take 12,000 snails to make only     2 grams of the shading. This type of paint will be costing about in the range of 50$ to 60$.

3. Ultramarine: The Most Precious & Expensive

The most valuable and costly oil paint is Ultramarine. This type of paint will be costing about in the range of 20$ to 30$ for just 50ml.


Despite comparatively new paints like acrylic, oil still remains an artist favorite. Oil producers still got works that are still beautiful and relevant from the 15th century. And it’s also durable, and it has this ability to layer, where you can scrape back, you can keep working, you can work on a piece for years and keep on redoing it, and it gives every piece this history. The materials themselves are expensive. But they’re reliable; they’re gorgeous. We mean, they come out of the painting at you!


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