Graphite drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Graphite drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Samuel Prout, Samuel Amsler, Carlo Ferrario, Charles R. Knight, William Trost Richards,  Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol, John Singer Sargent
Today, March 30, is — we are told — “National Pencil Day“, marking the advent of a patent on the pencil with an attached eraser.

I’ll put aside the fact that this hardly represents the most significant event in the history of the pencil, and the inaccuracy of the linked WN article about Lipman creating the wooden pencil (he did not — see my post on the history of Pencils); and I’ll even overlook the likelihood that this is merely a marketing ploy on the part of pencil manufacturers, and instead use it as an excuse to celebrate pencil drawing, with a few nice examples from history.

To do that, I had to go no further than the mind-bogglingly deep catalogue of drawings in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, from which I’ve selected a few done in graphite.

Should you choose to do the same, here is a link to a search of the online collections for works marked with the tag “graphite”.

This will turn up many watercolors, ink and wash and other drawings in which graphite was incorporated or used as a start, but there are enough actual graphite drawings to keep an interested pencil drawing aficionado occupied for hours. Most of them are available in high-resolution versions.

This tiny selection of pencil drawings is merely (if you’ll excuse the expression) scratching the surface — so I’ll tack on a Time Sink Warning.

Images above, with details: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Samuel Prout, Samuel Amsler, Carlo Ferrario, Charles R. Knight, William Trost Richards, Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol, John Singer Sargent.


4 Replies to “Graphite drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art”

  1. Nice post Charley, today, pencil only.
    I have never seen the Sargent before, must be an early academic one, maybe from his student days?
    The William Trost Richards is interesting because it appears either as unfinished on the left side, which might mean he was left handed(?) or as is done in publication, to allow for type treatment.

    The “National Pencil Day“ article is amusing citing “A single wooden pencil can write 45,000 words”

    …then, “John Steinbeck was an obsessive pencil user and is said to have used as many as 60 pencils a day.”

    …So the math works out to 2,700,000 words a day. Just saying…

    My own pencil day fun fact… I stripped an old piece of furniture with paint stripper and the carpenters original calculations and markings were not removed by the stripper, the pencil remains behind.
    Other than real india ink pencil we never know how good the ink is in modern pens. Pencil/graphite is not colorfast and won’t fade over time so mark the back of art with pencil not pen.

  2. Thanks, David.

    Sargent did lots of drawings, throughout his career as far as I know. They just get overshadowed by his paintings. His portrait drawings, in particular, are beautifully done. You can see some of the others in the Met’s collection in my post about Sargent on the Met Museum website. There are at least a few others of similar subjects in the same pencil style, presumably travel sketches.

    The Richards sketch is from a sketchbook. There are more pages on the Met’s website.

    If you narrow your search by adding more specific terms, you can find these and more:

  3. Thanks for this post, Charley, and I also appreciate the Time Sink warning. (I’ll wait until later this evening to continue with your link to the Met).

    I agree that the inaccuracies and marketing motivations should be overlooked. Especially if National Pencil Day is our only “official” annual opportunity to celebrate the nobel pencil.


  4. Ah yes, the Richards is from a sketchbook. We are seeing the ghost transfer to the other page.
    Went to the links, yes a major time sink. Some 700 Sargent Drawings and watercolors which I love of his. Many I have not seen.
    I have the Sargent Portrait Drawings book, 42 of them in there but still just a fraction of what he did.

    I think you are right. Even major artists like Sargent publishers, and the web too, tend to recycle the same works over and over in coffee table books.

    Thanks for the additional links.

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