Metalpoint Drawing

Drawing in silver and gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns, Room 90, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 6th December 2015

Albrecht Dürer, Dog resting, c. 1520, silverpoint over charcoal? on pale pink prepared paper, 128 x 180mm. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Albrecht Dürer,
Dog resting, c. 1520,
silverpoint over charcoal? on pale pink prepared paper, 128 x 180mm.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This exhibition is a joint venture with the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and it looks at the technique of metalpoint drawing across the centuries and features around one hundred works drawn from collections around the world.

Susan Schwalb, Strata no. 407, 2005, silverpoint, 229 x 227mm. © Reproduced by permission of the artist

Susan Schwalb,
Strata no. 407, 2005,
silverpoint, 229 x 227mm.
© Reproduced by permission of the artist

The technique requires a metal stylus, often of silver, which was then used to draw on a roughened preparation.  The artist had to have a very clear idea of the image they wanted as it is difficult to rub out a line once drawn.  The skill and attention needed was worth it as the drawings in this exhibition eloquently show.

Leonardo da Vinci, Bust of a warrior, c. 1475, silverpoint, on cream prepared paper, 287 x 211mm. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Leonardo da Vinci,
Bust of a warrior, c. 1475,
silverpoint, on cream prepared paper, 287 x 211mm.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Used in Italy in the 1400s but replaced by the growing popularity of chalk as a medium in the mid-16th century, it remained popular in Northern Europe until the 17th century.  It was then discarded as a technique until the revival of interest in the Renaissance in the 19th century and as this exhibition illustrates it is still used today.

 

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