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About Pastel


Pastel is the purest form of color pigment, with just enough binder added to hold the dry powder into a stick. Pastels are permanent and lightfast and will stay bright and dazzling for hundreds of years, if properly framed, displayed and stored. Though pastels will smear in the unframed state, once framed, pastel paintings are as durable as any other art medium.

Historically, Pastel can be traced back to the 16th century. Its invention is attributed to the German painter Johann Thiele. A Venetian woman artist, Rosalba Carriera was the first to make consistent use of Pastel for her portraits of the French Court in the 17th century. Since then, a galaxy of famous artists have used Pastel for a finished work rather than for preliminary sketches. (LaTour, Millet, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler, William Merritt Chase & others).

Edgar Degas was a prolific user of Pastel and its champion. His protégé, Mary Cassatt, introduced the Impressionists and Pastels to her friends in the U.S. in the late 1800's. Since then, Pastels have been the medium of choice and experimentation by many renowned living artists who have enriched the art world with this beautiful medium. These include Aaron Shikler, Daniel Greene, Albert Handell, Burton Silverman, Harvey Dinnerstein and many others who began teaching in the 1970’s—sharing what they knew with the world, and influencing new generations of painters in Pastel.

Today, Pastels appear in serious museum and private collections, are featured in galleries and win major awards in competitive exhibitions. In the spring of 1983, Sotheby Parke Bernet sold at auction, two Degas Pastels for more than $3,000.000 each! Both Pastels were painted about 1880 and are as dazzling and fresh today as they were then.