Creation and Analysis of Synthetic Alizarin and Replication of Turkey Red

Wertz, J. H. , Quye, A. , France, D. and Richmond, L. (2014) Creation and Analysis of Synthetic Alizarin and Replication of Turkey Red. In: 33rd Annual Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK, 29 Oct - 1 Nov 2014,

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The synthesis of alizarin was a landmark event in the development of synthetic textile dyes as the first naturally occurring colourant to be replicated in the lab.[1] At the time alizarin was first commercially produced, 1869, there was a fair understanding of its structure and tinctorial properties.[2] Dyers and chemists soon learned, however, that other hydroxyanthraquinones were forming during the synthesis and the product was not pure alizarin. Compounds like anthrapurpurin and flavopurpurin, which are not present in madder-extracted dye, were forming.[3] While there is a solid body of work investigating the components of madder dyes, very little analysis has been done on synthetic alizarin or work on replicating historical production methods.[4] Commercial alizarin today is of high (97% and above) purity, but historically would have varied greatly.[5] This project aims to synthesize alizarin following historical processes to obtain a product similar to one that would have been used to dye textiles of the era. The goal is to be able to identify which components are present in order to better understand the chemical composition of historical textiles. Initial analysis on the alizarin and madder extract will be carried out using Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography with Photo Diode Array detection (UPLC-PDA), allowing for better results with minimal sample. This work will allow us to understand how best to preserve these artefacts, especially if they contain light-sensitive components as part of the alizarin makeup. It also has the potential to indicate whether a textile is dyed naturally or synthetically. The focus for the study is the Turkey red textile dyeing process, which was a major industry in Scotland for around 150 years. In addition to synthesizing and investigating the chemistry of synthetic alizarin, the overall project aims to re-create and analyze samples of Turkey red. Successful replication of Turkey red oil has already been achieved, as well as insight into the chemistry of applying oil onto the fabric. Current work involves the synthesis of alizarin, which after analysis will be applied to the oiled textiles in order to produce samples for analysis prior to examining historical artefacts. Our research is a cross-disciplinary endeavour between the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History and the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, with cooperation from the University’s Scottish Business Archive.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:France, Dr David and Quye, Professor Anita and Richmond, Ms Lesley and Wertz, Julie
Authors: Wertz, J. H., Quye, A., France, D., and Richmond, L.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
University Services > Library and Collection Services > Library
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