Titanium White was first developed in the early part of the 20th century and by 1920 it was appearing in artists colors. At first artists were suspicious of the new color with good reason because it took another 10 years to solve problems in the manufacturing process that lead to some chalking problems in those early days. As the problems disappeared the color quickly gained popularity.
It was first adopted in the media that White Lead was not suited to such as gouaches and pastels but eventually in oil paints as well due to (the) its opacity, strength, and pure whiteness of the color and the growing realization that is is possibly the most lightfast of all pigments. Most artists grew to love its many excellent qualities and by 1940 over 80% of all artists whites were made from Titanium White.
The development of acrylic paints in the 1950’s saw the universal adoption of Titanium White as the standard white in the new medium and by the 1970’s health concerns over the use of lead saw its remaining use in oil paint plummet. Titanium was the obvious replacement for lead for its many qualities as a color, but it was also so safe to use that it is commonly used as a food coloring. Today over 70% of all pigments manufactured on earth are Titanium and its variants, and it is used in everything from food and cosmetics to toothpaste and paint.
Matisse Titanium White displays all the best characteristics of Titanium White pigment. The clarity of acrylic emulsions means that titanium dioxide reaches its maximum brilliance and purity. It has great opacity due to a high pigment load, the pure whiteness that is desired, is absolutely permanent, and is among the most environmentally safe of all paint colors. Some would say that it is the artist’s best friend.