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Natural Oil Colours: Madder Lake Brown Red (Rubia tinctorum L.)

Madder Lake Brown Red (Rubia tinctorum L.)

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This is one of the most stable natural pigments, and for centuries it was the most commonly used red dyestuff.

This is one of the most stable natural pigments, and for centuries it was the most commonly used red dyestuff. 

 It is obtained from the root of the madder, a plant belonging to the Rubiaceae family, cultivated in the Mediterranean and Middle East. 

 It was used by the Romans, Egyptians and the Greeks, who called it erythrodon. It is believed to have been brought to Italy during the Crusades, and European cultivation began in the 13th C. 

The pigment, which artists call “Rose Madder”, was first isolated by in 1826 by the chemists Colin and Robiquet, who found it to be based on hydroxyanthraquinones, the two colouring agents in Rubia tinctorum extracts, which were permanent alizarin and purpurine. 

 These extracts were used to formulate different hues of red, from brownish to purplish and bluish. In 1868, the German Graebe and Lieberman managed to synthesise alizarin, commonly known as crimson, and industrial production began, after which only painters used the natural product. 

OLD WOOD uses the extract of Rubia tinctorum to make two different colours, Red and Brown Red. Both produce shades that are pure, bright, warm, transparent and full of life.

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