The Birth of Pastel

Exhibition Website

Jun 6 2017 - Dec 17 2017

This installation explores the evolution of pastel paintings out of colored chalk drawings from the Renaissance to the Rococo. 

Artists since the Renaissance have worked with dry colored media—natural chalks or fabricated versions consisting of powdered pigment and a binder. In the eighteenth century, pastels became extremely popular, especially for portraiture. Sold in sets of countless colors, these sticks offered a promising new alternative to oil paints. They enabled artists to work quickly and spontaneously, yet with refined results.

Featuring works by Jacopo Bassano, Federico Barocci, Simon Vouet, Robert Nanteuil, Joseph Vivien, Rosalba Carriera, and Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, the display focuses most closely on the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, when pastels began to rival oils—in their variety of color, their high degree of finish, and even their scale—as the preferred medium for stately portraits.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website 

  • Painting
  • European
  • Jacopo Bassano
  • Federico Barocci
  • Simon Vouet
  • Robert Nanteui
  • Joseph Vivien
  • Rosalba Carriera
  • Maurice-Quentin de La Tour

Exhibition Venues & Dates