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Violet  Sensual, regal, and full of psychological depth
On the color wheel violet is a mixture of red and blue, 2 colors that are direct opposites in terms of temperament. Small wonder that small differences in the mix can lead to large differences in mood for this color. Consequently there are more variations of violet with special names (and are claimed to be separate colors by many) than any other spectral color. Some violet's are purples, some rose, some magenta, some mauve , some lavender each with their emotional associations. Imperial Purple (Tyrrian Purple) was actually a dark red worn by the Ceasars and is symbolically imperious, while lavender is always soothing and calming. Deep violets are mysterious while rose is simply beautiful.

Violet is the darkest spectral color and is at the edge of vision. It was always a rare color for the ancients. Amethyst is the only violet gemstone, and it is only in flowers that the color is easily found in nature. Thus when William Henry Perkin's invented the first affordable mauve dye in the mid 19th century it immediately became a fashion color. Even in the arts it is no accident that the mauve type colors became prevalent in pre-Raphaelite and Victorian art immediately followed the introduction of Perkin's Mauve and related colors. For the artist Violet is like black - never an essential color because it can easily be mixed from the primaries, and in many ways the violets made from a mixture of say Ultramarine and either Permanent Rose or Pyrrole Alizarin are far more interesting than the violets from violet pigments.


Cobalt Violet PV 14   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Inorganic synthetic mixed metal oxide. Cobalt violet phosphate in the 19th century was prepared by refining a natural ore which also contained arsenic and so was a very dangerous pigment. Introduced about 1860. The synthetic version, although considered toxic, as are all cobalt colors, is far safer. It can be made in several shades but for artists use the light (reddish) and dark or deep (blue-violet) are the ones of interest. Absolutely permanent, and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint film. It is not suitable for dry media. 
Toxicity
Cobalt is considered toxic, do not ingest. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco.


Manganese Violet PV 16   ASTM   l
Also known as Mineral Violet
Chemical type and description

Inorganic synthetic metal salt Introduced in 1868 this absolutely permanent violet. It is available in both reddish and a blue shade very similar to the blue shade of Cobalt Violet. It is absolutely permanent and moderately priced but has low tinting strength. It is fast drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint film. Not suited to Fresco or Acrylic, but an excellent  violet in oils and watercolors.
Toxicity
Manganese is considered toxic, do not ingest. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastels, Chalk.


Quinacridone Violet PV 19 & PR 122   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Quinacridone. These two pigments are clear bright transparent pigments of great strength and are the most light fast organic pigments in this shade range. There are no inorganic pigments with this brilliance and purity of color. Paradoxically PV 19 comes in a red version as well as a red-violet, while PR 122 is a beautiful magenta color. PV 19 can be problematic during paint making. They all make hard and fairly flexible oil paint films and are average drying, Suitable for all media.
Toxicity
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Dioxazine Violet PV 23   ASTM   l l
Also known as Carbazole Violet
Chemical type and description

Organic synthetic Oxazine. Although not as light fast as any of the other violets on this page it is well liked by industry due to high tinting strength, non toxicity and suitability for all media. Personally I prefer to choose mixtures of far more permanent colors than use this color. Average drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint film.
Toxicity
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Mars Violet PR 101   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Inorganic synthetic iron oxide. In Roman times the natural equivalent of this was called Caput Mortuum which means 'the head of the dead' a bizarre name referring to the color of dried blood. The synthetic pigment is a beautiful soft violet that makes perfectly the sort of soft mauvey browns when mixed with white that is the natural color of lips. It makes the sort of violets that are found in tree trunks and old wood or in summer landscapes. Used far less than it deserves this violet is confusingly indexed as a red and only the name reveals its true color family. Average drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint. Suitable for all media. Superb pigment in all respects.
Toxicity
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Other Violets Excellent but not necessary
Ultramarine Violet (PV 15)
A pale violet of low tinting strength but great permanence this pigment is too weak to be of much use in oil but performs better in water based mediums and is actually very useful for lavender shades in Pastels and Chalks. Average drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint film. Is able to be used in all media except Fresco. Non Toxic. Available as both bluish and reddish versions.

Isoviolanthrone Violet (PV 31)
An excellent pigment of high light fastness (ASTM l). Non toxic and suited to all media.

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References
Alberti, L B,    On Painting    1435 (Penguin Classics)
Cellini, B,    The Life Of Benvenuto Cellini,    finished 1562 but not published until 1730 (Heron)
Cennini, C d'A,    The Craftsman's Handbook.    1437 (Dover)
Doerner, M,    The Materials Of The Artist And Their Use In Painting,    1921 (Harcourt Brace)
Eastlake, Sir C L,    Materials For A History Of Oil Painting,    1847 (Dover)
Feller, R L,    Artists Pigments    1986 (National Gallery Of Art / Cambridge University)
Gettens, R J, and Stout, G L,      Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia,      1942 (Dover)
Gottsegen, M D,    A Manual Of Painting Materials And Techniques,    1987 (Harper & Row)
Maire, F,    Colors: What They Are And What To Expect Of Them,    1910 (Drake)
Mayer, R,   The Artists Handbook Of Materials And Techniques,    fifth edition 1991  (Faber & Faber)
Merrifield, Mrs. M P,    Medieval And Renaissance Treatises On The Arts Of Painting    1849 (Dover)
Muther, R,    The History Of Painting From The Fourth Century To The Early Nineteenth Century,    1907 (Putnam)
Parkhurst, D B,    The Painter In Oil   1898 (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard)
Patton, T C,    Pigment Handbook,    1973 (Wiley)
Porter, N      Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary,      1913 (Merriam)
Pliny, The Elder (Gaius Plinius),    Natural History,    77 AD (Penguin Classics)
Roy, A      Artist's Pigments: A Handbook Of Their History And Characteristics,      1994 (Oxford University Press)
Taubs, F,    A Guide To Traditional And Modern Painting Methods,    1963 (Thames & Hudson)
Theophilus,   On Divers Arts,    1125 (Dover)
Various,    Encyclopedia Britannica,    fifteenth edition 1981  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc)
Various,    Paint And Painting,   1982,  (Winsor & Newton / The Tate Gallery)
Various,    The Artist's Colormen's Story,    1984 (Winsor & Newton)
Vasari, G,   The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors And Architects,    1568 (Penguin Classics)


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