Seated Young Woman, Jean-Antoine Watteau
Black, red and white chalk on buff paper. Roughly 10 x 7 inches (25 x 17 cm). In the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY. Image can be zoomed or downloaded.
French Baroque painter Jean-Antoine Watteau was a wonderful and prolific draftsman and master of the “trois crayon” (three chalks) technique, in which three colors of chalk, black, red (sanguine) and white are used to draw the subject on a middle ground toned paper.
This is a remarkably effective technique for rendering the figure, allowing for a great range of value and almost naturalistic color with simple materials.
Here, Watteau has just used delicate traces of white as his highlights, allowing the tone of paper to carry most of the lighter values. The drawing is beautifully gestural and fluid, while retaining the solid geometry of the artist’s knowledge and observation of anatomy.