The Birth of Pastel

June 6–December 17, 2017, Getty Center

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A Muse, mid-1720s, Rosalba Carriera; pastel on blue paper. The J. Paul Getty Museum

Featuring works from the Museum’s permanent collection, this installation explores the evolution of pastel paintings out of colored chalk drawings.

Artists since the Renaissance have worked with dry colored media—natural chalks or fabricated versions consisting of powdered pigment and a binder. In the eighteenth century, pastels became extremely popular, especially for portraiture. Sold in sets of countless colors, these sticks offered a promising new alternative to oil paints. They enabled artists to work quickly and spontaneously, yet with refined results.

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