Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!
Anthraquinone, also called 9,10-anthraquinone, the most important quinone derivative of anthracene and the parent substance of a large class of dyes and pigments. It is prepared commercially by oxidation of anthracene or condensation of benzene and phthalic anhydride, followed by dehydration of the condensation product.
Alizarin and many other vegetable pigments have chemical structures similar to anthraquinone. Anthraquinone can be converted to alizarin and to a number of synthetic dyestuffs, including a large family of vat dyes.
Although extremely stable toward oxidation, anthraquinone can be easily reduced to a variety of products. In alkaline solution, sodium dithionite reduces it to anthrahydroquinone, the alkali metal salts of which are water-soluble. The use of anthraquinones as vat dyes depends on this chemical reaction.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:
coloration: AnthraquinonesThe anthraquinones occur widely in plants but in only a few animals. These brilliantly coloured compounds have found wide application as dyes and as chemical indicators of acidity or alkalinity.…
dye: Dye structure and colourAlizarin contains the anthraquinone chromophore. These four dyes were commercial products in the late 1800s.…
alizarin…methods of preparing alizarin from anthraquinone were discovered in 1868, and, upon commercial introduction of the synthetic dye in 1871, the natural product disappeared from the market for textile dyes, though natural rose madder is still occasionally used, as a lake, for artists’ colours. The application of alizarin to cotton,…