We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Italian Renaissance Learning Resources - The National Gallery of Art

Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art


Term applied to monochrome painting carried out mostly in shades of grey. The use of the French word can be traced only to 1625, since although grisaille painting was done in preceding centuries, it was not referred to as such. The alternative expression peinture en camaïeu (gris) is also documented only more recently. In the 16th century there are occasional references to ‘dead colour’, but this term is no longer used. At the time of its origin, in the medieval period, grisaille painting was simply called ‘painting in black and white.’

Michaela Krieger