- Chemical Description: Diketo pyrrole pyrrole
- Pigment Number: PR256
- Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I
- Pigment Opacity: Opaque
- Paint Opacity: Opaque
- Series 7
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Matisse Scarlet DPP is a sensational color. The “DPP” in the name is a reference to the chemical name for pyrrole pigments. Their full name is Diketo Pyrrolo Pyrrole. They are related to bio pigments naturally found in bile. The synthetic pigment was discovered accidentally in 1974 and was patented in 1983. Pyrrole reds have been used in artists paints since the 1990’s. They are also used in premium car paints and their success in high performance situations has lead chemists to develop several variant shades from orange to deep crimson, all of which exhibit the favorable characteristics of great lightfastness that equals or exceeds the cadmiums and much cleaner and more intense colors than the cadmium pigments.
The spread of pyrrole pigments is very similar to the gradual replacement of vermilion by Cadmium Red. Although the new pigment had several advantages its higher price slowed the process at first, but as more and more artists grew to like the new color it took root. Health concerns over the very poisonous nature of real vermilion played a large role and now the traditional color is used only in limited niche situations such as restoring old master paintings. Similarly health concerns hang over the future of cadmium colors and it is possible that regulations in places like the EU could see the use of cadmium colors restricted. Fortunately the artist has the pyrrole reds and orange to take their place on the palette.
The spread of the pyrroles as a preferred color for artists was highlighted recently when a large collection of previously unknown Jackson Pollock paintings was supposedly discovered. The pictures purported to be from the 1940’s. Subsequent testing of the paints in the pictures revealed the presence of a pyrrole red which was not available until decades after Pollock died. It appears the forger had excellent taste in pigments but a poor knowledge of their history.
Matisse Scarlet DPP is a very clean and intense scarlet red. The cleaner a color is the better as a general rule for bright spectrum colors like red. Although artists often like slightly subdued colors when comparing a new clean color to an older less clean color they forget that it is easy to add a touch of a complimentary color to the bright clean color to make it more subdued, there is nothing that an artist can do to make a slightly subdued color cleaner. In other words a very clean and pure color is more versatile for the artist and useful in situations that require very intense colors. Matisse Scarlet DPP has that usefulness. It is a superb color that can take the place of traditional old masters vermilion when painting portraits and figures and yet it is non-toxic. It is equal to or exceeds all other reds in terms of permanence making it suitable for all techniques.