Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours
by, November 1, 2011 at 09:10 AM (1241 Views)
Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours were prepared and sold at Rudolph Ackermann’s shop, The Repository of Arts at 101 Strand in London and also sold through print and booksellers in Great Britain. He published a list of watercolor cakes that appeared in 1801 and was appended to A Treatise on Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours. The list contained instructions on preparing watercolor cakes in the following colors:
Antwerp Blue—Prussian blue precipitated with baryte or aluminum hydroxide.
Bistre—A brown pigment produced by charring beechwood.
Blue Verditer—A synthetic copper carbonate blue similar to azurite. It was made in numerous shades and had many common names.
Brown Pink—A lake color made from Buckthorn berries. Despite the name it was a color with a brown masstone, but a bright yellow when tinted or applied thinly. The same color was also sold as Still-de-grain, English Pink, Italian Pink and Dutch Pink.
Burnt Carmine—A dark red variant of carmine (see below) but even less permanent than its parent pigment. After calcining it was often mixed with Van Dyke Brown to get the richest shades.
Carmine—A crimson red lake pigment that came into in the 16th century. The lake was made by extracting the secretion of the cochineal, an insect of Central America.
Carmined Lake—A variant of carmine (see above).
Calcined Vitriol—Copper sulfate normally used as an ink or as a textile and hair dye. The pentahydrate form is a very bright blue.
Carbonic Black—Carbon black
Chinese Vermilion—A variety of synthetic mercuric sulfide made in China.
Cologne Earth—A peaty bituminous earth originally derived from a mine near Cologne, Germany. Also called Cassel Earth or Van Dyke Brown.
Crocus Martis—A dark reddish brown color made artificially from iron oxide.
Dragon’s Blood—A red gum from a Southeast Asian tree.
Dutch Pink—See Brown Pink (above).
Egyptian Brown—Most likely a bituminous substance made from ground mummies.
French Green—A copper hydroxide carbonate made by precipitating copper sulfate with potassium carbonate.
Gall Stone—A yellow lake that was supposed to be made from ox gall but was more likely to be quercitron lake.
Gamboge—A yellow gum from Southeast Asia. Its name is a corruption of Cambodia. One of the most lightfast colors of the natural colored gums but poor compared to the best of modern organics and toxic as well.
King’s Yellow—An artificial form of orpiment, arsenic trisulfide.
Lake—Any of several transparent organic red colors used in the Renaissance but principally at first lac, a resin secreted from an insect found in India. As brighter red dyes became available, especially cochineal, these were made by precipitating the dye onto a mineral base to make a color that imitated lac and so the name ‘lake’ became the meaning for any transparent dye based color precipitated on an inert pigment base and useful for glazing. Other paints often called ‘red lake’ include Dragon’s Blood (see above), madder, logwood and brazilwood. Now only madder and cochineal are still used and then only in small quantities. Madder is the most light fast of them. Lac was the third most expensive pigment during the Renaissance behind gold and ultramarine, but was considered worth it.
Massicot—Another name for litharge, lead monoxide was also used as a drier for oil. It is used to prepare ‘black oil.’
Mineral Green—A bright green color made from synthetic copper carbonate resembling, but less permanent, than malachite.
Patent Yellow—Also called Turner’s Yellow, named after the inventor, this lead pigment was an impermanent but cheap color and therefore popular. Several versions were sold from bright yellow to orange. It had a reputation for going black. The name is now used for various mixtures that are more reliable but superfluous.
Red Orpiment—Another name for realgar, the orange-red native mineral is arsenic disulfide.
Rose Pink—A transparent pink lake popular in the Renaissance in which Brazilwood (see above) and alum were precipitated onto chalk.
Royal Smalt—A common name for one of the dark shades of smalt. A glass frit made using cobalt widely used in European painting after the 15th century and was popular until the development of artificial ultramarine. Still made in small quantities and available from specialty artists’ pigment suppliers but the last large commercial production of the color ceased in 1952.
Sander’s Blue—The name is a corruption in English of the French name for the color: Cendres Bleues. In English the name was eventually further corrupted to Saunder’s Blue. This color is a copper carbonate similar to azurite and was also produced in a green variant.
Sander’s Green—A green variant of the copper carbonate version of Sanders Blue (see above).
Sap Green—A lake made from green Buckthorn berries that was always fugitive yet sold well.
Saturnine Red—A common name for red lead (lead tretraoxide) in the centuries following the Renaissance, but during the Middle Ages it was called Minium.
Van Dyke Brown
Yellow Orpiment—The native mineral of arsenic trisulfide.
[FONT=tahoma]Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834)[/FONT]
Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colour cakes were made from 1794 to 1827. There are some cakes in collections today not mentioned on the list. For example, Naples Yellow, which is, of course, a pigment known before the 18th and 19th centuries. It seems most unlikely that Ackermann would not have had it although it does not appear in the 1801 list. Of course, it could have been added between 1802 and 1827 but this seems most unlikely since it was a traditionally watercolor in the 18th century. There are other 101 Strand cakes that might have been added after 1801. For example, Payne’s Neutral Tint. William Payne would have been 41 years old in 1801, so possibly that color would have been introduced after that date and most certainly by the 1820s. It is not known what it was originally composed but Neutral Tints were usually a mixture of three primaries, such as Ultramarine, Sienna and another color.
Apart from Ackermann’s colors there are also the watercolors made by Newman and Reeves. The colorman Lewis Berger & Sons (dry pigment suppliers) supplied James Newman in addition to Ackermann, and Newman watercolors are quite clearly identified by his Gerrard Street mark as he was only there from 1781 to 1801. Newman was regarded by artists of the time as being one of the best colormen, whereas Ackermann was known primarily as a retailer.
In addition to the colors on Ackermann’s 1801 list, Newman also made Light Red (also widely supplied in early Reeve’s boxes), Indian Yellow and Red Lead, which are found today in a private collection of Gerrard Street cakes. Indian Yellow was in the Newman and Reeves range both in the 1800 Gerrard Street cakes and also later in the 24 Soho Square cakes.
The Newman Soho Square cakes are much more difficult to tie down datewise as the earliest Newman listing is 1859, by then 97 colors were listed, including a range for tinting photographs (Harding’s Tints).
Mummy is most likely the same as Ackermann’s Egyptian Brown (101 Strand cake). It was not in the Newman watercolor range but it was in the oil color range in 1859.
There is no information about the composition of Ackermann Yellow.
Ackermann watercolor boxes were supplied with a very limited number of cakes, rarely more than 24, and thus were fitted out with the most popular paint pigments. The largest catalogued box was a Newman 45 cake box. Many of the very expensive boxes were made by cabinet makers; many with unusual designs and sometimes adaptated from other applications, e.g., apothecary boxes were sometimes altered to take bottles or jars of paint.