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Working materials

Carriera’s pastel portraits were created with pastel sticks made from powdered pigment and a small amount of binder to hold the stick together. Because they consist mainly of pure pigment, pastels are known for their intensity and richness in colour.

Unlike oil paint or watercolour, pastels cannot be mixed on a palette to create new colours, but have to be layered as crayons directly onto the support. Traditionally, many artists made their own pastel sticks, but by the eighteenth century Carriera and other artists could purchase a range of colours of ready-made pastel sticks from expert pastel makers. From her correspondence we know that Carriera often obtained her sticks from manufacturers in Paris and Rome.