By ALICE RAWSTHORN
September 23, 2012
Victoria, was an
in 1858 the unusual
color of its velvet bodice and petticoat laces.
It was a sumptuous shade of pale
purple, which was the product of a
botched experiment by William Henry
Perkin. While trying to invent
an anti-malarial drug in 1856, he noticed that his
formula had stained a cotton rag in a beautiful lilac or
mauve hue. Perkin abandoned his studies to commercialize
new color was nicknamed Queen’s Lilac.
“The Color Revolution,” by the cultural
historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk. Exploring the use of color
by American manufacturers from the mid-1800s when
scientists, it shows
what a powerful force color has been — socially, culturally
featured in the “SumptuaryLaws,” which were introduced
by many countries during the Middle Ages to regulate what
people from different social classes were allowed to wear,
principally to prevent pushy arrivistes from dressing “above
King Henry VIII, insisted on being the only person in the
country to be permitted to wear purple during his reign.
Up until the mid-19th century, bright colors were the
preserve of the wealthy, the only people who could afford
development of chemical dyes, enabled more
shades to be created in brighter, longer lasting hues. People
responded by choosing the vivid colors that had until then
been denied them when clothing themselves and furnishing
their homes, prompting the upper classes to choose subtler
shades as a form of snobbish protest.
A new profession
emerged, the “color stylists” or “color engineers”.
Many of the earliest color professionals were artists, who applied the principles of the
early 19th-century French color theorist, Michel-Eugène Chevreul, to commercial ends.
studied the effect of placing different hues together, and of looking at one shade after
prolonged exposure to another. Among his American admirers was Albert H. Munsell. He devised
contraptions, like the Munsell Color Sphere, to choose appealing combinations of colors
for manufacturers to adopt, generally in the unobtrusive tones that he liked best.
By the 1910s, the approach advocated by
theoreticians like Frederick Winslow Taylor was becoming
popular, and color was identified as a problematic area,
because of its unpredictability.
If a manufacturer of furniture or
dresses ordered fabric and trimmings, which were both described as
“scarlet,” they often turned out to be different hues. and the U.S. government encouraged various industries
to standardize colors in an attempt to reduce wastage.
A new genre of color expert emerged
in the artists who had disguised
warships and military trunks by
painting camouflage patterns.
One “camoufleur,” the H. Ledyard
Towle advised the chemical company DuPont on color after
the war, and moved to Detroit in 1928 to work for General
Motors as its first “color engineer”. They drew on the sales data
provided by G.M.’s dealerships to develop a systematic
approach to selecting the shades.
Τhe color trade was a field where
women could flourish. Margaret Hayden Rorke, championed color
standardization. And Hazel Adler made her name
during Prohibition in the 1920s by advising New York State
to change the color of its car license plates from gray and
white to black and yellow. Combining psychological
insights into consumer preferences with statistics and trend
information, she then became a color consultant to Sears
Roebuck, Ford and other companies.
Color experts were deemed indispensable in business, and postwar
American consumers had a seemingly limitless choice of hues.
They were even given their
equivalent of Queen’s Lilac in 1953 when America’s new first lady, Mamie Eisenhower,
donned a sparkly gown for her husband’s presidential inauguration in a pretty pastel
shade that she allowed to be called
First Lady Pink.*
An advertisement for Monsanto Plastics, Fortune, 1939.
A Buick ad from May 1928 showing a car with a polychrome paint job.
A Kellogg’s Corn Flakes advertisement in Youth’s Companion (Nov. 5, 1908) used the subtle tones that Munsell favored.
is an organic compound that is historically important as a prominent dye.
It is an anthraquinone originally derived from the root of the madder plant.
In 1869, it became the first natural pigment to be duplicated synthetically.
Madder was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome for dyeing textiles and, to some extent, for making pigments.
It was said to have been introduced into Italy by the Crusaders.
By the 13the century, madder was being cultivated on a fairly large scale in Europe, but there is not evidence of its use in medieval or Renaissance painting.
Madder lake was most widely used in the 18th and 19th century, though never as extensively as the ruby-like lakes made from kermes, cochineal, brazilwood, and lac. In 1826 two French chemists, Robiquet and Colin, isolated the coloring principles of madder – alizarin and purpurin – by treating the root with sulfuric acid. The resulting extract, known as garancine, was used to make madder lakes, rose madder, and madder carmine.
Prior to this improvement, madder lake had been so costly that its use was confined to miniature painting. For fifty years afterward, no other ruby-red or rose-pink coloring matter gave better or more permanent results. Synthetic alizarin was first made in 1868. In the following years, madder lake was superseded by alizarin crimson, a pigment superior to it in every respect. Synthetic alizarin did not replace natural madder immediately. The French government attempted to protect its madder-growing industry by making it mandatory to use madder in dyeing trousers for the army.
Since many 19th-century painters believed that alizarin did not have the delicacy of subtlety of rose madder, the latter continued to be available into the 20th century. Today, most painters prefer alizarin, but a few artists ́colors made from rose madder can still be found among the European brands. In typical form, rose madder is a very pale pink powder; in oil and watercolor, it seems like alizarin crimson enormously reduced with alumina hydrate. When viewed by transmitted light, paint films of rose madder have a pronounced bluish undertone.
Chemical composition: HgS mineral mercuric sulfide
Mineral cinnabar is the principal ore of the metal mercury. The
crushed ground ore served directly as a pigment for centuries.
The historic sources for cinnabar were the famous Almaden
mines in Spain which are still the world's most important source of
mercury. Cinnabar is fairly widely distributed in nature and
sources are known in England, Spain, Italy, China, Japan,
California, Mexico and Peru.
Cinnabar is the common red crystalline form of mercuric sulfide.
Vermilion is the standard name in England and the United States
given to the red artists' pigment based on artificially made
mercuric sulfide. Artificial cinnabar was manufactured very early
on. Geber (Jabir), the eighth- to ninth-century Arabic alchemist
mentions a red compound formed by the union of sulfur and
The pigment has been known in China since prehistoric times
and it has long been held in high esteem there. The artificial dryprocess
vermilion does not differ from the natural mineral.
Impurities in vermilion are no satisfactory criterion of origin,
however, since very pure, natural cinnabar frequently occurs in
nature. Artificial vermilion, produced by the wet-process, contains
very finely divided and homogeneous particles. Cinnabar is
coarsely crystalline and has a bluish, carmine red color. When it
is finely ground, the color approaches a reddish orange.
Cinnabar and vermilion are permanent pigments. Although it is a
sulfide, it is not reactive with other pigments. In oil-medium, it was
commonly used with lead white to produce flesh tints.
We present our choice of new product highlights:
Spring News from the Color-Mill
We present you new Pigments, Mediums, Binders, Solvents, Plant-Watercolors, Wall
Paints, Linen, Canvas Frames, Brushes, Tools and Books. Be inspired by our spring
news and immerse yourself in the world of colorful pigments and new opportunities
for working techniques.
All new products can also be found at www.kremer-pigmente.com.
Indigo is an organic blackish blue pigment. Natural indigo was the only source of the dye until the late 19th century. Today indigo is also produced synthetically and available in various shades. A variety of plants, such as Indigofera species or Isatis tinctoria, provide the indigo dye. Indigofera species can be found all over the world. The dye is obtained from the processing of the plant's leaves. The leaves are soaked in water and fermented in order to convert the glycoside indican naturally present in the plant to the blue dye idigotin. The precipitate is mixed with a strong base such as lye, pressed into cakes, dried, and powdered. The powder is then mixed with various other substances to produce different shades of blue and purple. Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing. For centuries Indigo was used in many Asian countries, also in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Peru and Africa. The Romans used indigo as a pigment for painting and for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. It was a luxury item imported to the Mediterranean from India by Arab merchants. Indigo has been used in traditional textile dying throughout West Africa. From the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara to Cameroon, clothes dyed with indigo signified wealth. Natural indigo is not soluble in water or in alcohol. To be dissolved, it must undergo a chemical change: an alkaline solution containing a reduction agent reduces the water-insoluble indigo to a soluble substance known as indigo white or leucoindigo. When a submerged fabric is removed from the dyebath, the indigo white quickly combines with oxygen in the air and reverts to its insoluble form (giving the blue color)
Ochre – a natural earthpigment
The color designation „Ochre“ speaks for itself, every child
knows what it means. Correctly formulated is it a crushed, grayish
orange yellow. The bright ochre varieties are the most common,
which are known as “Light Ochre” or “Yellow Ochre”. Additional
variations are Dark Ochre, Gold Ochre and Red Ochre, including
lots of various nuances.
Because ochre can be found frequently in nature and has no
special difficulties in processing, it has been used as a color for
painting since ancient times; for example for the cave drawings
from Altamira. The ancient Greeks called ochre “Ochra” and the
French Ochre is amongst the most highly valued ochre varieties.
The different qualities are offered under a defined letter code. In
the Departement Vaucluse near Apt and Roussillon the world
famous ochre mines are located. The sediments of Roussillon are
cretaceous marine sand deposits, a layer is rarely recognized.
The color of the sediment is a secondary appearance. On the
sand a layer of limonite has been deposited, the different color
stems from the weathering product of this layer.
Other varieties of ochre can be found in Italy, England and in
some cases also in Germany. “Amberg Yellow” is a German
ochre variety, favored within the design of historic buildings in the
Bavarian region. “Satin Ochre” refers to an orange-gold ochre
shade. “Oxide Yellow” is a synthetically produced ocher shade,
which is replacing the natural product increasingly.
All ochre varieties are semitransparent or opaque pigments,
completely lightfast and compatible with all common binders.
Therefore ochre is an universal pigment, which can be used in
every technique. Ochre glazes have a slight cloudy effect, which
is used specifically for certain effects and in landscape painting
ochre is used for mixing natural green shades. Mixing an ochre
nuance out of basic colors would be much complicated and timeconsuming.
Small additions of ochre are essential for the
illustration of air in portrait painting and to refract very colorful
shades. A thin layer of ochre gives watercolors a harmonious
composite of light.
Kremer Pigmente Purple – Color of Imperators and Kings
Tyrian purple was one of the most costly organic coloring
matters of the ancients. It was prepared from several mollusks or
whelks, including Murex brandaris and Purpura haemostoma,
which are found on the shores of the Mediterranean and Atlantic
coasts. Huge quantities of these mollusks were used for dyeing
fabrics in classical times.
We produce Tyrian purple from the shellfish, Purpura Lapillus,
which excretes the fluid from which the dye is gained.
Traditionally marking the dress of emperors, kings and chief
magistrates, 1 gram of this dye is made from the secretion of
10,000 of these large sea snails.
This purple color is remarkably stable, resisting alkalis, soap, and
most acids. It is insoluble in most organic solvents.
Tyrian purple was used in the preparation of a purple ink and in
dyeing parchments upon which the codices of Byzantium were
written. Whelks that produce the purple dye, are also found on
the coasts of the British Isles, and they furnished the purple color
for some of the early English, Irish and French manuscripts
The color went out of use in about the 8th century, though it may
have been used occasionally up until the 11th century.
Recipe: Acrylic Gesso Applied as a thin ground on canvas or paper, this gesso provides an elastic surface. Thicker gesso layers can be sanded if applied onto wood. Ingredients:
200 g Marble Dust,extra white (#58500)
400 g Blanc Fixe (#58700)
150 ml Plextol® D 498 (#76000)
10 g Cellulose Glue K 1000, thick (#63610)
100 g Kremer Color Paste - Titanium White (#27000)
700 ml Water Sieve, fine
Dissolve 10 g of the Cellulose Glue K 1000 thick (#63610) in 700
Dissolve 10 g of the Cellulose Glue K 1000 thick (#63610) in 700 ml of water. Add the Plextol D 498 (#76000), Marble Dust (#58500) and Blanc Fixe (#58700). To make the Gesso opaque, add 100 g Color Paste Titanium White (#27000). Strain the gesso through a fine sieve. This recipe will give about 1 liter of gesso.
Crack a fresh egg and fill it into a glass with a
screw cap. Fill the empty shells of the egg with
linseed oil varnish and add it to the egg (the
same volume as the egg). Now shake everything
well until the fluid becomes a smoothy emulsion.
Then fill the egg shells with dammar varnish
and add it to the egg and the linseed oil varnish.
Shake everything well again until the fluid
becomes a smoothy emulsion.
Fill the egg shells with water, add it to the
emulsion and shake well again.
In this egg tempera (binder) stir in the pigment
of your choice in a mortar or on a plate and
grind until the fluid gets the viscosity of a yogurt.
Now the paint is ready to use.
If necessary, the tempera can be diluted with
Paper Adhesive made of plant starch
Starch as a pure carbohydrate is used as an
adhesive in the paper lamination and
restauration for many centuries.
Stir in the starch into water, cook-up once and let
We offer the following starchs:
#63440 Rice Starch
#63451 Wheat Starch Powder
#634778 Shofu Nori Powder
Only very alkaline-stable pigments can be used to color concrete or cement-based mortars.
Please check our suitability list for cement-stable pigments!
Particularly suitable for this application are the iron oxide pigments as well as manganese gray (#47510) and manganese black (#47501).
The amount of pigment depends on the desired color, but more than 4 weight% of pigment should not be added to pure cement.
If a mortar is supposed to be colored, that amount may already be too much, because the mortar will also contain aggregates and will not be able to bind as much pigment.
The pigment powder has to be mixed thoroughly with the cement powder.
Color pastes can be added to the cement together with the water. For light colors it is preferable to use white cement. Another possibility is to add selected white quartz sand, cristobalite or colored stone powder.
Mind to mix the pigment thoroughly with the pigment, because pigment agglomerates could cause bleeding of the color.
Synthetic organic pigments are not suitable for outdoor applications, because they can be washed out in contact with water.
The cement matrix will react different to different pigments:
The pigment particle reacts with the cement and stabilizes the matrix: all red, brown and black iron oxide pigments
The pigment behaves like a sand particle: most metal oxides, inorganic pigments such as cobalt pigments, nickel-titanium-yellow, titanium dioxide
The pigment particle is a foreign body within the cement and will weaken the structure: all synthetic-organic pigments, clay minerals and similarly swellable materials.
The ratio between concrete and pigment depends on the particle size of the pigment. We recommend using the cement particle size distribution curve as a reference, since a certain ratio between cement and aggregate is required for concrete.
When a very fine pigment is added, the amount of cement has to be increased. Coarse-grained pigment should rather be regarded like sand.