Everything you need to know about 18th Century pastels
September 8 2015
Picture: Neil Jeffares
Neil Jeffares has posted an extremely useful, free and interesting guide to all things pastel in the 18th Century on his website. It's a PDF - yours to download and keep - and is meant as a form of introduction to his invaluable online dictionary of pastellists (above). He says:
The book aims to answer the questions that used to (or in some cases still do) baffle me, such as
- why did some pastellists also work in oil – and which sitters opted for pastel?
- why did pastel disappear from fashion with the French revolution, returning a century later, but vanishing just as abruptly?
- why does the word have such negative connotations?
- was the Académie de Saint-Luc just a virtual concept, or was there a building?
- how many pastellists were there?
- how can you physically safeguard your pastels for a few pence each?
- how were and are pastels displayed?
Neil calls it a 'prolegomena', but it's in PDF form partly because, as he points out:
I’m aware that not everyone enjoys browsing websites. There’s something about riffling the pages of a book that the internet, tablets etc. haven’t been able to replicate. And it’s in the nature of reference books that one doesn’t sit down to read them in a linear fashion.
And this means it's easy to navigate and use.
On a seperate post on his blog, Neil also looks at the wider question of publishing online, and its various shortcomings. For him, a particular bugbear is authors often not citing proper references. My bugbear is that for some writers online is a licence to go on meandering endlessly, for paragraph after paragraph, with no beginning, middle or end. Print and paper may have been expensive, but they encouraged brevity and discipline.