The Technology of Red Lake Pigment Manufacture: Study of the Dyestuff Substrate

Jo Kirby, Marika Spring and Catherine Higgitt
Technical Bulletin Volume 26, 2005

Abstract 

The substrate of a traditional red lake pigment, usually assumed to be a form of hydrated alumina, is as important a constituent as the dyestuff, influencing its colour, transparency, working properties and permanence. Analysis of both inorganic and organic constituents was carried out on lake pigments made in the laboratory following historical recipes, and on samples from paintings of the 13th to the 17th centuries. The results show that the composition of the substrate is more complicated than previously thought. They confirm the connection between the pigment-making and dyeing technologies and show that both the dyestuff raw materials and proteinaceous textiles may contribute a range of elements to the substrate. It is also clear that painters frequently used more than one variety of lake, often in different layers, to achieve the desired effect.

Keywords

alkali, brazilwood, FTIR analysis, hydrated alumina, madder, red lake pigments, scale insects, SEM-EDX analysis, silk, wool

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The Technology of Red Lake Pigment Manufacture: Study of the Dyestuff Substrate, Jo Kirby, Marika Spring and Catherine Higgitt  (PDF 5.56MB)

 

 

To cite this article we suggest using

Kirby, J., Spring, M., Higgitt, C. 'The Technology of Red Lake Pigment Manufacture: Study of the Dyestuff Substrate'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 26, pp 71–87.
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/technical-bulletin/kirby_spring_higgitt2005


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