Real madder is a red dye extracted from the madder root. In ancient Egypt and in Asia, madder was used for textile dyeing. It has been used in Europe at least since the Middle Ages. Since the dye is water-soluble, it must be made insoluble before it can be used as a pigment for paint. This gives the color supplement “lake” in the name. The same goes for other organic colors such as carmine and indigo.
Today it is difficult to get hold of organic pigments, they are exchanged for synthetic equivalents. But madder is still available as an artist’s paint at Winsor & Newton. Everyone else has abandoned the color because it is not lightfast. Various synthetic pigments have replaced the color.
There are other manufacturers, who are lesser known, who also have real madder lake. For example.
Winsor & Newton’s maddert lake color is called “rose madder genuine” and is very pale. All other major manufacturers that have a color that they call something with “madder” do not tell the truth, it is not madder lake, but some synthetic substitute.
Madder lake is a cold red color that unfortunately has shortcomings in terms of light resistance. It is almost perfectly primary red but unfortunately pale which makes it a bit difficult to use. The color is transparent and not staining and can be anything from bright cold red to almost brownish unclear depending on the manufacturer.
Color index name: NR9
Lightfastness : Bad