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Salamon Gallery

Master Drawings - Glossary

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A drawing is ascribed when it is thought to be by a certain artist because of provenience or due to inscriptions on the drawing’s mounting. Nevertheless an ascription is not as certain as an attribution.

A drawing is attributed when a certain air about it, its style or epoch leads one to believe that it can be by a certain artist. There is still, however, a margin of doubt.
Bistre Ink
The brown inks we associate today with old master drawings are generally one of three types: bistre, sepia, or iron gall.
Black Chalk
A naturally occurring composite of carbon and clay that can be cut and sawed into a stick and sharpened to a point for use as a drawing instrument.
Black Ink
An ink prepared by incorporating a black carbon pigment derived from soot or charcoal into water mixed with a binding agent, usually gum arabic. Often the terms "India Ink" or "Chinese Ink" are used to refer to black ink, because dry ink sticks made with carbon pigment mixed with gum and resin, and hardened by baking, were imported into Europe from the East as early as the 1500s.
Bodycolour is a pigment that can be dissolved in water yet remain opaque.
Artist’s brushes were once made from squirrel fur. While brushes have been used since ancient times, often their strokes are confused with pen lines.
Made by slowly heating bundles of twigs in an airtight chamber to produce charred wood instead of ash. The resulting charcoal sticks produce a grayer line than black chalk, one that can also be more easily erased and manipulated. Often it is difficult to tell the difference between black chalk and charcoal with the naked eye.
Collector's Mark
Small signs, made by ink or dry stamps, placed by collectors on their drawings to show whose collection they came from. They are important guides when trying to determine a certain drawing’s provenience. A catalogue of all known collector’s marks was published by Frits Lugt in 1921 (Les Marques de Collections de Dessins et d’Estampes.) Registered guests can consult it on our website.
Colored pigments combined with oily, fatty, or waxy binding media and made into sticks.
Also referred to as bodycolor or opaque watercolor, gouache is a type of watercolor made opaque by the addition of white pigment or chalk used with a binding agent such as gum arabic. (See also Watercolor)
A crystalline form of carbon that can be sharpened into a stick and used for drawing. Although known since the 1500s, graphite did not become common in drawings until the 1700s. Graphite is generally grayer and smoother than black chalk or charcoal, and produces a line with a soft metallic sheen visible in raking light. Early on, graphite was confused with lead and is still today commonly referred to as "lead," "lead pencil" or simply "pencil".
Gum Arabic
The natural secretion of the acacia tree which is used as a binding agent in many liquid media. It improves the bonding properties of the ingredients in inks and watercolors, enabling them to stick to paper, and it helps to maintain a stable dispersion of pigment particles in water as the film of wash dries. (See also Watercolor)
One of the basic ways an artist builds up form through purely linear means: the artist makes closely spaced parallel lines with a drawing instrument, usually pen and ink or chalk, in order to create areas of tone. In Cross-Hatching, the artist adds another set of lines in the opposite direction, creating a gridlike, diamond-shaped pattern.
Heightening is a technique for adding brightness through the use of a white wash or chalk added to the bodycolor.
Iron Gall Ink
Is naturally a purplish-black, but with time and exposure to light, it changes to a brown color. Its essential ingredients include plant tannins extracted from gall nuts, to which are added iron salts and gum arabic. This ink has a natural acidity whose corrosive effect on paper can often be seen in old master drawings.
Laid paper
Is made using a mold covered with wires to form a distinctive grid pattern of "laid lines"-horizontal wires placed closely together, and "chain lines"-more widely spaced vertical wires. This pattern transfers to the final sheet of paper and becomes and essential identifying feature.
A stylus of silver, gold, copper or some other soft metal is used to draw on the surface of a sheet of paper specially prepared with a ground, whose texture picks up the metal, producing a fine line. It is not always possible to identify the metal used, but if so, one uses the more specific term of silverpoint, goldpoint, etc.
A modello is a finished drawing, not just a study. Often they have borders or margins and were made to be shown to potential clients.
The most common support used by artists for drawing, paper is made from plant fibers, usually derived indirectly from rags, beaten and turned into a soupy pulp (slurry) which is then scooped into a mold with a wire screen, drained, and then dried on felt into individual sheets. There are two main types of paper in the West: laid and wove, and the main difference is the type of screen used to strain the liquid paper pulp.
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