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Conté - Arcy Art Original Oil Paintings Art Dictionary

Conté is a synthetic black, red, brown or white chalk. Unlike pastel, conté is cohesive to paper but it has the same soft and diffuse quality of pastels. Conté makes a suggestive line that when used in mass over a rough grained paper has the quality of light and shadow with the blacks not uniform but flecked with white. The conté sticks' square profile makes it more suitable for detailed hatched work as opposed to the bolder 'painterly' drawing style demanded by soft pastels.

Conté were invented in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté, who created the combination of clay and graphite in response to the shortage of graphite caused by the Napoleonic Wars. Conté crayons had the advantage of being cost-effective to produce, and easy to manufacture in controlled grades of hardness. They are now more commonly made of a variety of fabricated chalk. Conté were extensively used by the Renaissance Old Masters in a variant called Sanguine, which has become the name of the reddest sepia tone of Conté.


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