Crimson lake

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A transparent, ruby red natural organic pigment made from Kermes dye. Crimson lake, which was originally called Carmine lake, is made from an insect found on the kermes oak found in southern Europe. The dye is extracted with alkali then precipitated on Alumina trihydrate. Crimson lake was used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was rarely used after Cochineal based carmine lake became popular in the 16th century and it was discontinued in the 19th century with the introduction of madder and alizarin lakes.

Synonyms and Related Terms

carmine; Natural Red 3 (kermesic acid); laca crimson (Esp., Port.); lacca cremisi (It.); Florentine lake; kermes lake

Physical and Chemical Properties

ISO R105 Lightfastness Classification = 1-2

Resources and Citations

  • H. Schweppe, H.Roosen-Runge, "Carmine-Cochineal Carmine and Kermes Carmine", Artists Pigments, Volume 1, R. Feller (ed.), Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1986.
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • R.Feller, M.Curran, C.Bailie, 'Identification of Traditional Organic Colorants Employed in Japanese Prints and Determination of their Rates of Fading', Japanese Woodblock Prints, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, 1984
  • Monona Rossol, The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide, Allworth Press, New York, 1994