Guild of Painters & Limners Gallery

Documentation for Patron's Prize: Animal sketches in style of 14th C Italian Pattern Books
Entry by Lady Katerina da Brescia


Artists who have employed the use of silverpoint include: Leonardo da Vinci (p 110), Botticelli, Durer, Jacopo Bellini (1. p 70, 125) Benozzo Gozzoli, (1. p 93) Roger Van der Weyden (4.), Raphael, Holbein.

Silverpoint drawing is made by using a stylus - the 'lead' being made from a silverwire. This is used on a 'prepared paper'. Paper in the renaissance period, is made from linen rags (1.) It is prepared by using a wash of guache or, as Cennini describes, a mixture of spittle and ground chicken bones that have been burnt to ash.

It has a light tone, due to the hard nature of the metal compared to modern day leads. Shading, or tone, is built up by going over an area, often by single hatching (as in Leonardo's, Soldier in a Helmet (2. XXXI ) or cross-hatching.(1, 3.) Sometimes this was 'highlighted' by white chalk or wash or with ink to increase the tonal range (3, 5). Holbein had also used coloured chalks to add 'colour' to some of his silverpoint portraits (precursor to the painting). Silverpoint work was often used for studies on which paintings were based.

Pattern books - a collection of images finished compostitional drawings, often with simple pictures with no 'shading/cross hatching' to detailed observation of nature or freeform experimental-type drawings, as they later evolved into. This was made possible with the increased availability of paper, reducing the cost (but it was still expensive). Pictures appear to be mainly that of nature, people, animals etc..

After 1400, pattern books included several different media types, including silverwork with white highlights from chalk or 'wash'.

Graphite was discovered in Bavaria (approx 1400) and, in 1504, a pure graphite deposit was found in England. (5. p172). The first graphtie pencil was made in 1662.

With the subject of this competition being 'Animals', I decided to do sketches, in the form of the renaissance pattern books, as this subject was common at the time.

Eagle head:

I have used silverpoint for the eagle head (as in Benozzo Gazzoli's Studies of Animals )

This is done on purchased linen paper, prepared with a white wash for tooth.


and modern day lead pencil for the hound (in style of a Florentine draughtsman 1450? Studies of Animals) both found in reference 1, p80. This was done on standard modern paper.

Both entries are done in the single hatch style as shown in Leonardo's Soldier in a Helmet (2.) This also shows the contrast difference between a modern day lead pencil and silverpoint.



Ames-Lewis, Francis, Drawings in Early Renaissance Italy, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000.

Bacci, Mina, Leonardo, Bloomsbury Books, London, 1985. ISBN: 0 906223 48 2

Cennini, Cennino d'Andrea (translated by Thompson, Daniel V. Jr). Il Libro dell' Arte Dover, NY 1960.

Laclotte, Michel, Treasures of the Louvre, Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 1993, ISBN: 0-89660-037-8

Hayes, Colin The Complete Guide to Painting and Drawing Techniques & Materials. Guild Publishing, London, 1989.


Drawing in Period, (30/10/02)

Silverpoint and Meticulous drawing by Laura Shechter. (3/11/02)

Silverpoint drawing complete, (30/10/02)