Spotlight on Colour: Rose Madder
Rose Madder is a distinctive rose coloured pigment made from the roots of the common madder plant, Rubia tinctorum. It is a transparent pigment with granulating properties in Water Colour. A natural organic lake pigment, it was first used as a dye for fabrics. Evidence of its use can be found in ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian cloths as far back as 1500 BC. Cloth dyed with madder root pigment was even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Considered one of the best quality natural pigments, it was well sought after and was brought to Europe by the crusaders. By the 13th century, it was being cultivated across Europe, notably in the Netherlands as their sandy soil provided a favourable environment for the plant.
However, the production of madder dye was costly and by 1860, Great Britain was importing madder at the value of £1.25 million a year. It was necessary to find a better, more reliable method making of the pigment. The renowned colourist George Field made