metalpoint

   A metal stylus of lead, bismuth, silver, or gold, which, when drawn upon an abrasive surface, produces a faint gray line — a trail of extremely fine particles of metal rubbed from the stylus. Metalpoint lines become more visible as those particles oxidize. Artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries drew with metalpoint on papers coated with bone-dust or chalk (usually tinted). "Metalpoint" is the most common name for such styluses, even though they may be of any of several different metals, because it is difficult to identify the specific metal a draftsman used by simple observation. Contemporary scientific methods can reliably identify the metal in such work. Alphonse Legros (French, 1837-1911) was one of the several artists who revived the use of metalpoint in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Glossary of Art Terms. 2014.

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