Timothy David Mayhew, “Blue Sunrise,” oil on Belgian linen, 16 x 16 inches

Harvard University’s Fogg Museum will soon be hosting a lecture and seminar surrounding the traditional use of natural graphite drawing materials by artists from the 16th to 19th centuries. Who’s their expert guest?

Artist and scholar Timothy David Mayhew will be lecturing on the fascinating topic of natural graphite materials and techniques, circa 1500-1800, during an October 26 presentation at the Fogg Museum. Geared toward conservators, curators, scientists, and art historians, the talk will focus on the technical aspects of historical graphite and drawing media.

Timothy David Mayhew, “Lewis River Morning,” traditional mid-19th century French dessin au fusain on paper, 18 x 26 inches

“Natural graphite was implemented for drawing and writing in the mid-1500s,” Mayhew said. “While much has been written on the history of graphite, most of it focuses on the history and development of the modern wood-encased fabricated graphite pencils most widely used for writing. Less well known is the way that natural graphite was used by artists for over three centuries, both before and after the development of modern fabricated graphite pencils. This presentation covers natural graphite’s geological formation, its unique working properties, field emission scanning electron microscopic images, and importantly it will document how it was used by artists from the 16th to 19th centuries organized century-by-century with historical references and images of extant drawings.”

To learn more, visit Harvard Art Museums.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.



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