Where does the Sanguine technique come from?

Sanguine is a drawing technique that has existed since antiquity. As its name indicates, the work made from this technique is of sanguine color. Many famous painters have used this technique. With time, the art has evolved a lot but the sanguine still keeps its originality.

What is the sanguine technique?

Sanguine is a drawing technique made with pastels, pencils or chalks of earth-red color. At the very beginning, artists used a rock composed of iron oxide to obtain the color sanguine. It is hematite. The technique of the sanguine gathers the colors around the earth: red, beige, brown, ochre, and orange. It is also known as red chalk. It consists in reproducing rustic scenes, live models and sketches. The blood color is reminiscent of the skin. For this reason, this technique has become the favorite of painters of portraits and nudes.

Origin of the sanguine technique

A long time ago, the technique of sanguine was used for the realization of frescoes for preparatory drawings. It is from the 15th century that it was used to make sketches, portraits and nudes on paper. It allowed to bring color to the drawings and enhanced the flesh. The use of a colored sheet improves the result. Many painters have used this technique: Leonardo da Vinci, Dominique Ingres, Jacques-Louis David, Jean Honoré Fragonard, Antoine Watteau, and Nicolas Poussin. Leonardo da Vinci is the painter who used this technique of sanguine, the most, during the Renaissance. In the 16th century, the technique of the three sanguine pencils was very famous for the realization of portraits.

How to draw with sanguine?

There are two sanguine techniques: the two-pencil technique and the three-pencil technique. The first one is based on white and black stone. For the lights, the volume and the mass, the white is necessary. Sanguine is used for color. Cool tones and shadows are drawn with black stone. It is recommended to use cream or white paper for a perfect rendering. Soft, slightly grained paper is also recommended for sanguine drawing. The three pencils technique consists in using a white chalk, a black stone and a red chalk.

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