Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Watteau trois crayon figure drawing

Seated Young Woman,  Jean-Antoine Watteau, Black, red and white chalk drawing on buff paper
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.

Seated Young Woman, Morgan Library


2 responses to “Eye Candy for Today: Watteau trois crayon figure drawing”

  1. Martin Hoade Avatar
    Martin Hoade

    Wow, I’ve never seen this form, “trois crayon”, before. The white chalk makes parts of the cloth painterly while the rest is not, the red is positively electric. Just three colors give my eyeballs a lot to do. This drawing is alive.

  2. This is so charming. I love how he uses all 3 to such great effect! Just lovely.