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  Drawing, in European fine art, means a composition of line and shade, usually on paper and executed in pencil, pen, charcoal, chalk or a similar graphic medium. Drawings traditionally have served as the preparatory stage of picture-making, from the first sketch to transferring the composition to canvas, panel or wall. Drawing was first appreciated as a medium in its own right during the Renaissance, when working drawings became sought-after and valued for the insights they offered into artists\' powers of invention. In the 17th century, academic theory drawing was valued over painting as the literal transposition of the idea, distant from the ‘mechanical’ work of grinding and applying colour, which recalled the artisanal approach of the guilds. From this stemmed the belief in the superiority of line over colour (Poussinistes v. Rubenistes)—an assertion which assumed that colourists neglected drawing. While many artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Fragonard and Turner made drawings, artists such as Ingres went further and made drawing the touchstone of art. (Two of Ingres\'s favourite aphorisms were ‘Drawing is the probity of art’, and ‘I can teach you painting in a week, but drawing takes a lifetime’.) In the 20th century, drawing has been liberated from its predominantly subservient role to find expression in the work of such consummate artists as Rodin, Matisse and more recently Hockney. MG PD

Further reading Susan Lambert, Reading Drawings: an Introduction to Looking at Drawings.



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