Red Nude Sleeping-Silverpoint,Oil & Pencil-70s-August Mosca
I have included some information on what a silverpoint is and how it is done. There are very few artists that have mastered this technique which goes back to the time of Leonardo and Raphael and continued by Durer and Holbein and neglected for centuries until Joseph Stella and his pupil and friend August Mosca brought it to full fruition again in the 20th century. This drawing of the nude combined three different media, pencil silverpoint and oil on paper(the plant is done with the oil). It measures 11 by 15 inches and is signed in pencil on the lower left. The condition is excellent. There is some chipping of the multi-layer ground that is used to build the surface for the silverpoint technique along the top edge of the painting. This will be covered when matted and framed. The photos tell the story.
Metal point, descendant of the stylus of classical times and ancestor of the modern pencil, a small, sharpened metal rod used for drawing precise compositions on paper or parchment. The metal could be lead, silver, copper, or gold, but silverpoint was the most common choice because it is the most suited to permanent drawing, its stroke adhering unerasably. The silverpoint was of great value in producing the hard, clearly defined line required, for instance, by miniaturists; modelling, emphasis, and light phenomena, however, had to be rendered either by means of repetitions, dense hatching, or blanks or else supplemented by other mediums." — Encyclopaedia Britannica (online), 1996.
SILVERPOINT :"Metalpoint. Drawing instrument (the forerunner of the pencil) made from a small, pointed metal tip, usually of lead, silver, copper or gold, encased in a wooden holder. Metalpoint can be used on various supports, including paper, parchment, wood and ivory, but the surface usually requires a special preparation or ground for the metal to leave a mark. Paper, which is most commonly used, is coated with an opaque white or tinted ground composed of lead-white powdered bone, pigment and gum-water. Several layers are applied. The natural tone for the ground is off-white, but it can be colored with any pigment. The ground has to be sightly granular for the metalpoint stylus to rub off and must have sufficient 'tooth' to retain the metal particles..." — The Dictionary of Art, 1996
"Silver has long been the preferred metalpoint medium, due to the ease with which it slides over a prepared surface and responds to pressure and for its trait of tarnishing over time. The color of the silver is gray when it is first applied to a prepared surface. Upon tarnishing, the silver attains a warm, mellow, brown tonality. The degree and rate of transformation is dependent on exposure to air, pollution, and the chosen ground. Artists who have worked in the medium often greet the resulting change in color with a sense of excitement and surprise, a process categorized by Victor Koulbak as the 'self-developing of the drawing.' The silver radiates a soft, effusive tonality, an almost ghostly luminosity. Silver acquires a shimmer and, as a result, it catches and reflects light." — Bruce Weber, "Silverpoint Drawing," in American Artist, March 1986.
Silverpoint is a drawing technique that was extensively used during the Renaissance both as underdrawing in panel painting and as a medium for fine drawings. Fine drawings, particularly, were done on white or tinted grounds and were commonly highlighted with white watercolor applied with a brush. To this day, silverpoint, or metalpoint as it is also known, remains a traditional but seldom used artist's technique for fine drawings..Essentially, the technique is based on coated paper upon which one draws with a fine silver stylus. Metalpoint drawings are also created with copper, platinum and gold. A contemporary metalpoint tool comprises a standard draftsman's mechanical pencil. Instead of graphite "leads," the artist inserts a silver, copper, platinum or gold rod. Silver and gold are readily available at jewelry craftspeople. For copper I use standard copper electrical wire stripped of its plastic coating. A fine metal file keeps the point relatively sharp, although too sharp a point may tear the paper.
To coat the paper, Renaissance artists took bones ( often from the dinner table ) and calcified them by placing the bones in a hot fire until they were a powdery white. The white calcified bones were mixed with a glue medium and then coated on a paper or wood surface. As silverpoint drawing began, minute particles of silver are embedded in the surface leaving a grayish line. In turn these lines tarnish with time giving the drawing a mature look. Silver takes considerable time to tarnish, perhaps even years, whereas copper will tarnish in a month's time. Gold does not tarnish. Silver tarnishes the lines into a brownish line and copper produces a yellow-green line. Platinum and gold are simply too expensive.
.......Contemporary surface material for silverpoint drawing is standard flat white latex acrylic paint. Tints can be added to the while latex paint. Other commercially available surfaces include clay-coated paper, clay board and primed masonite.
AUGUST MOSCA was born in Naples, Italy on August 19, 1905. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1911. Mosca studied at Yale University from 1924-26. He then attended Pratt Institute, Grand Central School and the Art Students League in New York City, where he studied with Harry Wickey. Though he was a matriculated student at these schools, Mosca never actually completed any degrees. He lived for a couple of years in Dumont ,N.J. around 1957 to 1959 before moving to New York City and then permanently to Shelter Island. He also traveled to Italy where he studied the works of some of the great Italian Renaissance masters, including Raphael, Leonardo, Signorelli, and Michaelangelo.
In 1937 Mosca met Joseph Stella who introduced him to the silverpoint medium. He was greatly influenced by Stella, who died in 1946. It was Stella who actually encouraged Mosca to paint images of New York City, including the subway & train system as well bridges and New York city. Mosca painted many still lifes,landscapes(often involving Shelter Island) as well as the human figure.He was particularly taken with the female form/nudes having drawn and painted hundreds of these works.His high keyed palette and style were at times highly expressionist and Fauve-like.
As well as being a working painter, Mosca taught art at the Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, Art Students League, and in Tuxedo Park. Mosca's first one-man show was held at the Harry Salpeter Gallery in New York in 1959, where he showed annually until 1969. Later the FAR Gallery handled him exclusively for six years; he was given a one-man exhibition every year. Other one-man exhibitions were held at the Guild Hall in East Hampton, in New Haven, Connecticut, and in Newark, New Jersey at the N.J. landmark Rabin & Krueger Gallery. In 1990 the prestigious Grand Central Gallery in New York held a 50 year retrospective of Mosca's drawings and paintings. In 1997 the ACA Gallery in New York held a one-man show titled "August Mosca Paints New York."
He was included in the "Living Legends" exhibition at the Millennium Gallery in East Hampton. He also exhibited in the Red Barn Atelier and the Elaine Benson Gallery both in Southhampton, as well as the Linda Fishetti Gallery in Southhold. His work was included in the Metropolitan Museum's "Portrait of America" exhibition, and in the Museum of Modern Art.Among his many awards are a Silver Medal from California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He won First Prize from the Newspaper Guild of New York in 1950 and 1951. He won the Barney Paisner Award from the Society of American Graphic Artists in 1976, the Award of Merit in 1984, the Jane Peterson Award from The Society of Painters and Sculptorsin 1984, he received a lifetime Honorary Membership from the Audubon Artists. Mosca is listed in all of the major dictionaries of American artists.
Mosca's works can be found in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Grey Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Butler Institute of American Art, Library of Congress, U.S. State Department, New York Public Library, Roy Neuberger Museum, and the Shelter Island Historical Society.
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Item ID: Moscarednudesleeping
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