Spotlight on: Ruby Madder Alizarin

Ruby Madder Alizarin

Ruby Mander Alizarin is a new Winsor & Newton colour formulated with the benefits of synthetic alizarin. We rediscovered this color in our archives, and in a color book from 1937, our chemists decided to try to match this powerful dark-hued Alizarin Lake variety.

We still have the notebooks of British colourist George Field; he is known for working closely with our founder on colour formulations. After Field developed a technique to make madder color last longer, further experiments were carried out to develop other beautiful madder varieties, the main pigment being alizarin.

Ruby Madder Alizarin

The root of common madder (Rubia tinctorum) has been cultivated and used to dye textiles for at least five thousand years, although it took a while before it was used in paint. This is because to use madder as a pigment, you must first convert a water-soluble dye into an insoluble compound by combining it with a metal salt.

Once it is insoluble, it can be dried and the solid residue ground and mixed with the paint medium, just like any mineral pigment. This is called lake pigment and is a technique used to make many pigments from plant or animal matter.

Ruby Madder Alizarin

Some of the earliest madder lakes have been found on Cypriot pottery dating from the 8th Century BC. Madder lakes were also used in many Romano-Egyptian mummy portraits. In European painting, madder was more commonly used during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Due to the pigment’s transparent properties, madder lakes were often used for glazing

A common technique is to apply a madder glaze on top of the vermilion to create a bright crimson. This approach can be seen in several of Vermeer’s paintings, such as Girl with a Red Riding Hood (c. 1665). Surprisingly, there are very few historical recipes for madder lakes. One reason for this may be that, in many cases, madder dyes are not derived from plants, but from already dyed textiles.

By 1804, George Field had developed a simplified method of extracting dyes from madder roots and laked madder, resulting in more stable pigments. The word “madder” can be found to describe the range of shades of red, from brown to purple to blue. This is because the rich colors of madder dyes are the result of complex mixing of colorants.

The ratio of these colorants can be affected by many factors, from the type of madder plant used, the soil in which the plant is grown, to how the roots are stored and processed. In addition, the color of the final madder pigment is also affected by the salt metal used to make it insoluble.

The British chemist William Henry Perkin was appointed to the position in 1868 by the German scientists Graebe and Lieberman, who had patented a formula for synthesizing alizarin a day earlier . This is the first synthetic natural pigment. One of the most significant benefits of doing this is that synthetic alizarin costs less than half the price of natural alizarin lake, and it has better lightfastness. This is because madder plants take three to five years to reach their maximum color potential, followed by a long and time-consuming process to extract their dyes.

Post time: Feb-25-2022