Wednesday, 21 August 2019


A grisaille (/ɡrɪˈzaɪ/ or /ɡrɪˈzeɪl/; French: gris [ɡʁizaj] 'grey') is a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish colour. It is particularly used in large decorative schemes in imitation of sculpture. Many grisailles include a slightly wider colour range. Paintings executed in brown are referred to as brunaille, and paintings executed in green are called verdaille.

A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, as underpainting for an oil painting (in preparation for glazing layers of colour over it), or as a model for an engraver to work from. "Rubens and his school sometimes use monochrome techniques in sketching compositions for engravers." Full colouring of a subject makes many more demands of an artist, and working in grisaille was often chosen as being quicker and cheaper, although the effect was sometimes deliberately chosen for aesthetic reasons.

Grisaille paintings resemble the drawings, normally in monochrome, that artists from the Renaissance on were trained to produce; like drawings they can also betray the hand of a less talented assistant more easily than a fully coloured painting.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.
"Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery" is a small panel painting in grisaille by the Netherlandish Renaissance printmaker and painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It is signed and dated 1565.
"Saint Geneviève provisioning Paris under siege" (Sainte Geneviève ravitaillant Paris assiégé) (1897-1898) by Pierre PUVIS de CHAVANNES - Distemper, pencil and chalk on canvas (National Gallery of Victoria). 

There are three vast panels (465.0 × 287.0 cm; 465.0 × 345.5 cm; 463.0 × 285.0 cm), covering an entire wall of the 19th-century gallery at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. They are the full-scale preparatory cartoons in grisaille, for part of a mural series for the Pantheon in Paris.

It is a legendary scene from the life of the saint during the siege of Paris by Childeric, king of the Franks, in 464. The city was surrounded and the people were starving; we can see them here in the crowd on the left, some obviously distressed. Rowing at the head of 11 boats, Genevieve supposedly made it past the siege lines and brought food back to the city from Troyes. She appears in the middle of the central image aboard her vessel. Others are bringing bags of grain ashore from the boats. As it turned out, Childeric was impressed by Genevieve’s heroism and the saint became an intermediary between the conquering king and the city.


  1. astonishingly effective, like b&w photography can be.

  2. some people do have skills

    Have a heartwarming en splendid ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    M e l o d y (team ABC-W)


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