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.

Investigating drawing - Charcoal


Detail from Self-portrait by David Bomberg

Detail from Self-portrait by David Bomberg

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

One of the oldest drawing materials, charcoal has great versatility and is often used for making spontaneous, large and bold drawings or for drawing out an image before painting. It is usually made from charred willow twigs and is also sold compressed into solid sticks. Charcoal is soft and fragile and can be used to give either a soft or strong quality of line, or alternatively smudged and dragged over the paper for textured effects and shading.

A selection of examples from the Gallery's collections


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