Sometimes referred to by the French term sanguine, natural red chalk is a clay that gains its color from iron oxide, also known as hematite. The proportion of the hematite to the clay content determines the specific hue of the chalk, which can range from a very pale red to a burnt brownish orange. Red chalk can produce broad, soft, and fluent gradations of tone, and because it is less friable than black chalk, and thus unable to readily cover large-scale areas of paper with unbroken tone, tends to be used for drawings that are on a relatively modest scale. The first artist to realize its potential was Leonardo da Vinci at the end of the fifteenth century. Red chalk reached its apotheosis during the eighteenth century in France, where artists such as Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Jean-Honoré Fragonard displayed exceptional virtuosity and mastery of the medium.
Exhibited: Statements of Self-Importance – The Portrait in Europe 1660-1950, Langston Gallery, London, 2009