Lithol red

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[BASF] A trademark for a series of bright red, metallic salts of a synthetic Azo dye. First patented in 1899 by Paul Julius (BASF), Lithol reds are made by combining Tobias acid (2-naphthylamine-1-sulfonic acid) and beta-naphthol. Variations in colors are obtained by forming the salts with Sodium, Barium, Calcium, and Strontium cations. Lithol reds are inexpensive and widely used in printing inks, crayons, enamels, stationery, and industrial paints. They are also used as a colorants in some plastics. Lithol reds are not lightfast in sunlight and have only been used in student grade artists paints.

  • Na salt: yellowish red, PR 49, CI 15630, water soluble
  • Ba salt: bluish pink, PR 49:1, CAS 1248-18-6
  • Ca salt: bright red, PR 49:2, CAS 1103-38-4
  • Sr salt: purplish red, PR 49:3, CAS 1103-39-5

Synonyms and Related Terms

Lithol toner; Pigment Red 49; CI 15630; 1-sulfo-beta-naphthalene-azo-beta-naphthol; Harrison Red


PR049.1 sun barium lithol 210-4200.TIF

FTIR Ba Magruder(MFA)

PR49-1 Barium Lithol red1.PNG

FTIR Ca red(MFA)

PR049.2 sun calcium lithol red 211-4620.TIF

FTIR Ca maroon(MFA)

PR049.2 sun calcium lithol maroon 211-4980.TIF

FTIR Ca Magruder(MFA)

PR49-2 Calcium Lithol red (magruder RL1082-dc).PNG

FTIR Ca y-s Magruder(MFA)

PR49-2 Calcium Lithol red (magruder RL1348-dc).PNG


  • May cause allergic reactions.
  • May be contaminated with cancer causing chemicals.


Pigment number Manufacture Pigment name Manufacture CI number Comments
PR49:1 Magruder barium lithol red rl1204-dc
PR49:1 Sun barium lithol red 210-2400
PR49:2 Magruder calcium lithol red rl1082-dc
PR49:2 Magruder calcium lithol red y_s rl1348-dc
PR49:2 Sun calcium lithol red 211-4620
PR49:2 Sun calcium lithol maroon 211-4980

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Poor lightfastness.
  • Composition = C20H14N2O4S

Resources and Citations

  • H. A. L. Standeven, "The History and Manufacture of Lithol Red, A Pigment Used by Mark Rothko in his Seagram and Harvard Murals of the 1950s and 1960s" Tate Papers, Issue 10, 2008. Link
  • B.Berrie, S.Q.Lomax, "Azo Pigments: Their History, Synthesis, Properties and Use in Artists' Materials" in Studies in the History of Art, No.57, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 1997.
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979