Red lead

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Painted swatch of Red lead.

Brief description of Red lead:

A dense, fine-textured red pigment with good hiding power but only fair stability. Red lead was one of the earliest pigments artificially prepared and is still in use today. It was a favourite of Byzantine and Persian illuminators and commonly used in European manuscripts and paintings.

Names for Red lead:

Alternative names: minium
Word origin: The name "Red lead" comes from Minium comes from river Minius located in north west Spain.
Non-English names:
German French Italian
Bleimennige, Mennige minium minio
Origin: mineral and artificial
Chemical name:



Example of use by artists:

Miniatures, images made of minium

Lovers in the Garden, Manesse manuscript ca. 1300

Minium was the Latin name given to the red pigments (actual red lead but also vermilion) used in painting and in particular for illuminating manuscripts. From the word minium came the Latin verb miniare and then the English miniate and miniature to describe the image.