The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

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Investigating drawing - Chalk

Chalk and charcoal are the most basic of drawing materials, and used both to make sketches and finished works.

Chalk is a drawing material, similar in texture and appearance to pastel, made from various soft stones or earths. The three main types are black, red (also called sanguine) and white chalk. They are applied dry to paper and smudge easily so can be blended and mixed. The use of black and white is an effective technique for drawing portraits and showing the contours of a face. Today processed coloured chalks are produced by mixing the limestone rock used in white chalk with pigment, water, and a binding agent such as gum.

The miniaturist Richard Gibson described Van Dyck's technique during the 17th century in the following way.
The artist....' would take a little piece of blue paper upon a board before him & look upon the Life & draw his figure & postures all in suden line, as angles with black Chalke, and heighten with white chalke.'

A selection of examples from the Gallery's collections

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