Obelisk Art History
Mediums

Chalk
A Paleolithic material still in use

Chalk is a humble material with a remarkable past. Though today chalk is associated with scratching out equations on a blackboard, this remarkable medium is a type of limestone, created from the crushed shells of billions of phytoplankton called Coccoliths, whose corpses built up over millions of years into stone strata that now underlays much of Europe. Chalk has been used as a mark-making tool since the earliest homosapiens, with early chalkwork appearing in Paleolithic cave drawings. And chalk has had legs, with Renaissance and Rococo artists like Peter Paul Rubens and François Boucher turning to chalk as a tool for sketching before creating a final painting, and in the 20th century avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso used chalk’s speed and gestural fluidity to bring their drawings to life.

Reed Enger, "Chalk, A Paleolithic material still in use," in Obelisk Art History, Published February 05, 2015; last modified October 31, 2022, http://arthistoryproject.com/mediums/chalk/.

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Triumph of Jupiter, Bernardo Parentino

Triumph of Jupiter Bernardo Parentino, 1490

A bird's-eye map of western Tuscany, Leonardo da Vinci

A bird's-eye map of western Tuscany Leonardo da Vinci, 1503 – 1504

A map of the Arno valley and surrounding areas, Leonardo da Vinci

A map of the Arno valley and surrounding areas Leonardo da Vinci, 1503 – 1504

Head of an African, Albrecht Dürer

Head of an African Albrecht Dürer, 1508

Notes on reproduction, Leonardo da Vinci

Notes on reproduction Leonardo da Vinci, 1511

The bones of the foot, and the shoulder, Leonardo da Vinci

The bones of the foot, and the shoulder Leonardo da Vinci, 1510 – 1511

The foetus in the womb, Leonardo da Vinci

The foetus in the womb Leonardo da Vinci, 1511

The muscles of the shoulder, Leonardo da Vinci

The muscles of the shoulder Leonardo da Vinci, 1510 – 1511

The superficial anatomy of the shoulder and neck, Leonardo da Vinci

The superficial anatomy of the shoulder and neck Leonardo da Vinci, 1510 – 1511

The veins and muscles of the arm, Leonardo da Vinci

The veins and muscles of the arm Leonardo da Vinci, 1510 – 1511

A map of the Pontine marshes, Leonardo da Vinci

A map of the Pontine marshes Leonardo da Vinci, 1515

Three views of Marcus Aurelius's Equestrian Monument (G.Z.), Monogrammist GZ or Gabriel Zehender

Three views of Marcus Aurelius's Equestrian Monument (G.Z.) Monogrammist GZ or Gabriel Zehender, 1521

A Fisherman Pulling a Net, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

A Fisherman Pulling a Net Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1774

A Young Woman of Frascati, Jacques-Louis David

A Young Woman of Frascati Jacques-Louis David, 1775

Study of a Seated Woman Seen from Behind, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

Study of a Seated Woman Seen from Behind Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1789

Sailboat on a Raging Sea, Théodore Géricault

Sailboat on a Raging Sea Théodore Géricault, 1818 – 1819

A Packet Boat off Dover, Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Packet Boat off Dover Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1836

Self Portrait, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Self Portrait Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1847

Guinevere and Iseult: Cartoon for Stained Glass, William Morris

Guinevere and Iseult: Cartoon for Stained Glass William Morris, 1862

View of Lausanne II, Matthijs Maris

View of Lausanne II Matthijs Maris, 1861 – 1862

Cavalry Soldier on Horseback, Winslow Homer

Cavalry Soldier on Horseback Winslow Homer, 1863

A Criminal Case, Honoré Daumier

A Criminal Case Honoré Daumier, 1865

Reverie, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Reverie Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1868

Spring (Women and Men at Well), Winslow Homer

Spring (Women and Men at Well) Winslow Homer, 1875

The Day Dream (Study), Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Day Dream (Study) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1878

Figures in the Woods, Matthijs Maris

Figures in the Woods Matthijs Maris, 1880

Sorrow, Vincent Van Gogh

Sorrow Vincent Van Gogh, 1882

Orchard with Arles in the Background, Vincent Van Gogh

Orchard with Arles in the Background Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Sun over Walled Wheat Field, Vincent Van Gogh

Sun over Walled Wheat Field Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

Portrait of Mrs. Stuart Merrill, Jean Delville

Portrait of Mrs. Stuart Merrill Jean Delville, 1892

The Shepherdess (Monumental Conception of Humanity), Matthijs Maris

The Shepherdess (Monumental Conception of Humanity) Matthijs Maris, 1887 – 1892

Worship, Ferdinand Hodler

Worship Ferdinand Hodler, 1893

Girl looking up, Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Girl looking up Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1900

The King's Children, Matthijs Maris

The King's Children Matthijs Maris, 1899 – 1900

Woman looking away, Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Woman looking away Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1900

Before the Bath, Suzanne Valadon

Before the Bath Suzanne Valadon, 1908

Studies of Self Portrait, Ferdinand Hodler

Studies of Self Portrait Ferdinand Hodler, 1911

Red Balloon, Paul Klee

Red Balloon Paul Klee, 1922

Reclining nude, Gerda Wegener

Reclining nude Gerda Wegener, 1929

More Art Mediums
Etching, Mediums

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Pencil, Mediums

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Lithography, Mediums

Lithography

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