by Gautam Shah ➔
Grisaille (French: gris =grey), is an artwork form where Grey and its various tones are used to create sculptural effect in paintings. It is largely a monochrome form of presentation, though few other colours are also used. Frescoes with Brown tones have been called Brunaille, and with Green tones Verdaille.
Grisaille form could be a painting or glass-art or an understudy for a painting. ‘Rubens and his school sometimes use monochrome techniques in sketching compositions for engravers.’ Grisaille was often used to see the validity of a proposed sculptural composition. It was used to imitate classical sculptures in wall and ceiling decorations. In French, Grisaille has also come to mean any painting technique in which translucent oil colours are laid over a monotone under-painting.
The art-form was preferred for being faster and cheaper. Sometimes, however, it was intentionally used for being less committal and also for its aesthetical beauty. Grisaille art-form was used by glass painters for colouring in place of stained glass or pot glass. Grisaille windows were popular because the monochromatic panes of white glass with black or brown painted outlines offered a very sober and brighter interior environment. It saved money, and worked well as a replacement for stained glass or leaded windows.
‘In the grisaille enamel painting technique, pulverized white vitreous enamel is made into a paste by mixing it with water, turpentine, oil of lavender, or petroleum oil and is then applied to a dark enamel ground, usually coloured black or blue. Lighter areas of the design are thickly painted, while the gray areas are obtained by painting with thinner coats to allow the dark background colour to tone the white enamel pigment.’