Grisaille

Grisaille

Grisaille [gri-zahy] is a term for painting executed entirely in monochrome or near-monochrome, usually in shades of grey. It is particularly used in large decorative schemes in imitation of sculpture. Paintings executed in brown are sometimes referred to by the more specific term brunaille, and paintings executed in green are sometimes called verdaille.

A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, as underpainting for an oil painting (in preparation for glazing layers of color over it), or as a model for an engraver to work from. Full coloring 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.

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