Pair of graphite miniatures on paper: portraits of men and women Late 18th century
Delicate features, plays of shadow and light highlight these two simple miniature portraits, certainly two studies for larger paintings. Details in hairstyles, clothes, jewelry and clothing materials. A great and beautiful simplicity sublimated by the line of the draftsman
The drawings intended for miniature portraits, painters’ sketches and engravers are said to be “pencil” and relate to works carried out until the end of the 18th century.
For memory :
The drawing, as a project for a work, is found everywhere from the Middle Ages in the visual arts, including goldsmithing and fashion. It summarizes and develops the plastic thinking of the author, and allows him to present it to his clients or sponsors, in a lighter form and requiring less time than the final realization. Drawings were not usually meant to be kept; however, according to Paul Valéry, “the concern for the person and the moment prevailing over that of the work in itself and of the duration, the condition of completion seemed […] contrary to the “truth”, to ‘sensitivity’ and to the manifestation of ‘genius’ […] the sketch has equaled the painting”. The taste thus went towards projects, studies and preparatory drawings; this development began in France at the end of the 18th century. The first exhibition of drawings from the Cabinet du Roi took place at the Louvre in 1797.
The conception of drawing as an autonomous art, aiming at nothing other than itself, arose from discussions among artists and amateurs on the plastic qualities and the principles governing painting. In the 17th century, the Color Quarrel opposed the partisans of color to those of drawing. The “drawing” in these discussions does not depend on the technique or the medium. It is mainly about the contour line of the subjects, opposed to the colored surface and its modulations, as Leonardo da Vinci did
Size 13 x 13cm