A first comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the evocative medium of metalpoint will be on show at the British Museum this autumn.
Organised by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the British Museum, ‘Drawing in Silver and Gold’ will explore the development of the artistic technique of metalpoint from the Renaissance to the present, and discover how the technical challenge of the medium has inspired generations of artists.
Metalpoint is a drawing technique where the artist uses a metal stylus, usually made of silver, on an abrasive preparation so that traces of the metal are left on the surface, resulting in a visible drawing. The fine point allows for precise lines so that stunningly detailed drawings can be achieved but metalpoint lines cannot be easily erased and the artist needs to carefully plan the design or run the risk of having to start all over again. In the hands of the greatest artists metalpoint could also be used more freely for creating rapid sketches.
The exhibition is the first to explore the development of metalpoint through six centuries and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see around 100 exceptional works by some of the greatest artists working from the late 14th century to the present including Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Elder, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, Otto Dix, Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman.
Works drawn from the British Museum’s superb collection of metalpoint drawings will sit alongside major loans from European and American museums as well as private collections, including four sheets by Leonardo da Vinci from the Royal Collection.