Knowledge of the materials and techniques of drawing—as well as the methods and materials of papermaking—often is essential to determining the country, artist, and workshop from which a drawing originated. Of the more than one hundred Italian drawings in this exhibition, most are executed in pen and brown ink, further analysis would likely reveal that the ink is iron gall, an acidic black ink that eventually turns brown with exposure to air. Other drawings in the exhibition are executed in black or red chalk (or a combination of the two), both of which are naturally occurring and contain clay, which makes the material relatively soft and easy to use. Black chalk was used for some early Italian drawings, and it would not be until the fifteenth and sixteen centuries that red chalk was favored by such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, who exploited the medium for its atmospheric effects.

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