Historical pigments

A special place in the palette of pigments produced by us is occupied by the so-called "historical pigments". The name “historical” is in a certain sense conditional and means only that these pigments, created artificially, were obtained in the distant past and have been successfully used in painting for hundreds and even thousands of years, along with natural materials. So, for example, krapp-lacquer, obtained from the root of madder dye (Rubia tinctorum), was used in dyeing fabrics, carpets and leather, in artworks since the first millennium BC. The permanence of the colors of ancient Persian carpets is due to the fact that the threads from which they are woven are dyed with crapples of various shades. Artists of ancient Rome worked with crappas, and during the Renaissance, crappe varnishes became widespread. In the middle of the 19th century, a method was obtained to obtain alizarin (one of the constituent parts of krapp varnish) from coal tar, and therefore the production of natural krapp varnish was gradually replaced by krapp from artificial alizarin. But unlike natural, artificial crappe polish lacks another of the colorful beginnings - purpurin, thanks to which natural crappe polish acquires its own unique crimson hue. In addition, natural krapp varnish has pronounced glazing properties, in contrast to the "deaf" artificial krapp. Nevertheless, for the sake of cheapness and ease of manufacture, natural krapp was undeservedly forgotten and gave way to a synthetic counterpart. In 2007, we tried to revive the production of natural crappe varnish based on old recipes and achieved good results. Our palette has replenished with a real, high-quality krapp varnish. After a successful experience with crappe varnish, we decided to come to grips with the production of other “historical pigments” based on old recipes. To date, we have successfully mastered the production of Neapolitan yellow in two shades and lead-tin in one shade. Next in line is the search for a technology for the production of Egyptian blue and some other pigments.

Neapolitan yellow was first obtained in Italy in the 15th century from natural mineral formations found among the volcanic rocks of Vesuvius. Its chemical composition was first determined by Brunner, who also proposed methods for its preparation that have been used to date. In composition, Neapolitan yellow is a lead-antimony oxide with a variable amount of lead. Its color changes from dark to light yellow.

The lead-tin Pb2SnO4 pigment of a pale yellow sometimes with a lemon tint was used in the early Middle Ages to obtain yellow glass, but from the beginning of the 14th to the end of the 18th century it was also widely used in painting.

A.V. Grigoriev