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Ink Drawings

Ink drawings are an integral part of the artistic traditions in many cultures. Artists prize ink for its ability to capture intricate detail, as well as its stability as a drawing medium. It is employed in a variety of genres from landscapes to cityscapes and portraiture to abstraction. Ink drawings are very popular, as ink offers the distinct advantages of being a readily available and inexpensive medium.

During the Renaissance period, artists such as Fra Angelico and Leonardo Da Vinci created preparatory sketches using ink before embarking on large-scale frescoes. These drawings allowed the artists to determine the composition, proportions, and light effects before committing the work to oil paint.

Ink drawings have also been the primary medium for traditional landscape and calligraphy art throughout Asia. These drawings were typically executed using animal hair dipped in ink. Unlike oil paint, ink dries nearly instantaneously after being applied to paper, and can remain relatively unaltered for centuries, especially as ink and paper technologies have become more advanced.


Quick Facts

  • Iron gall was the most common ink during the Renaissance period. It was created by mixing gall nuts with iron sulfates and gum arabic to produce a deep black pigment
  • While Renaissance and Baroque era ink drawings were initially black, most have faded over the centuries to a dark brown
  • The ink drawing "Portrait of a Young Man, Head and Shoulders, Wearing a Cap" attributed to Piero del Pollaiuolo sold at Sotheby’s in 2012 for nearly $1.4 million

Recommended Items at Auction

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Édouard Vuillard, 1868-1940, Femme en conversation
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Édouard Vuillard, 1868-1940, Femme en conversation
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF500- CHF800
CHF6506 Bids
Gérard Sendrey, 1928-2022, Personnage (Personage)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Gérard Sendrey, 1928-2022, Personnage (Personage)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF200- CHF400
CHF3202 Bids
Albert Oehlen – Ohne Titel
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Albert Oehlen – Ohne Titel
by Karl & Faber - Timed
Est: €1,500- €1,700
€1,2001 Bid
Johann Robert Schürch, 1895-1941, Clown
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Johann Robert Schürch, 1895-1941, Clown
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF300- CHF600
CHF2600 Bids
Albert Müller, 1897-1926, Untitled
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Albert Müller, 1897-1926, Untitled
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,500
CHF9000 Bids
Roger de la Fresnaye, 1885-1925, Nu couché (Reclining Nude)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Roger de la Fresnaye, 1885-1925, Nu couché (Reclining Nude)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF600- CHF900
CHF5000 Bids
Jacques Villon, 1875-1963, La mort du rêve
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Jacques Villon, 1875-1963, La mort du rêve
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF500- CHF800
CHF4400 Bids
Markus Raetz, 1941-2020, Untitled
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Markus Raetz, 1941-2020, Untitled
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF3,000- CHF5,000
CHF2,6000 Bids
Jürgen Klauke, 1943, Die Nervensäge (The Nuisance)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Jürgen Klauke, 1943, Die Nervensäge (The Nuisance)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF200- CHF400
CHF1800 Bids
Édouard Vuillard, 1868-1940, Silhouette dans un paysage
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Édouard Vuillard, 1868-1940, Silhouette dans un paysage
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,500- CHF2,000
CHF1,3000 Bids
Donald Baechler, 1956-2022, Pile 1
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Donald Baechler, 1956-2022, Pile 1
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,400
CHF9000 Bids
Marie Laurencin, 1883-1956, Jeune fille debout
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Marie Laurencin, 1883-1956, Jeune fille debout
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF600- CHF900
CHF5000 Bids
Mikhail Larionov, 1881-1964, Ljuscha
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Mikhail Larionov, 1881-1964, Ljuscha
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,800- CHF2,000
CHF1,6000 Bids
Julius Bissier, 1893-1965, 11.4.56 (*)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Julius Bissier, 1893-1965, 11.4.56 (*)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,500- CHF2,000
CHF1,3000 Bids
Marcello Morandini, 1940, Senza titolo (Untitled)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Marcello Morandini, 1940, Senza titolo (Untitled)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,500
CHF9000 Bids
André Masson, 1896-1987, Sans titre (Untitled)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
André Masson, 1896-1987, Sans titre (Untitled)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF500- CHF800
CHF4400 Bids
Hans Erni, 1909-2015, Zwei Pferde (Two Horses)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Hans Erni, 1909-2015, Zwei Pferde (Two Horses)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF800- CHF1,200
CHF7000 Bids
Mimmo Paladino, 1948, Senza titolo (Untitled)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Mimmo Paladino, 1948, Senza titolo (Untitled)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF800- CHF1,200
CHF7000 Bids
Fritz Wotruba, 1907-1975, 2 Drawings: Standing Nudes (*)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Fritz Wotruba, 1907-1975, 2 Drawings: Standing Nudes (*)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,500- CHF2,000
CHF1,3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Ink Drawings


Germann Auction House Ltd

Germann Auction House Ltd

Karl & Faber - Timed

Karl & Faber - Timed