Van Gogh worked with oil paint. He used both paint with (natural) pigments, made the same way for centuries, as well as paint with new synthetic colourings. In Van Gogh’s time, an age of revolutionary scientific advancement, these colourings were being developed for the textile industry.
The range of ready-to-use tubed synthetic paints on the market increased throughout the 19th century. These intense colours were extremely popular with the Parisian avant-garde, to which Van Gogh belonged. He used new colours such as geranium lake, however, this particular colour faded when exposed to light.