Ketterer Kunst Logo

Search Lots


Dictionary
Bistre

Bistre [French: "bistre" = nut brown, chocolate brown] is a special pigment used in watercolors and wash drawings until the 19th century. To make bistre, tarry soot was made from burnt beechwood and mixed in water. Brownish in color, bistre was used in watercolors, either as a wash or as a paint. Bistre was used especially from the 15th to the 18th centuries by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain, Tintoretto and Titian. Replaced by sepia in the 19th century, bistre can be in various shades of brown, depending on what sort of wood was burnt to make it. Beechwood (European beech: Fagus sylvatica) bistre is lighter in color while oak produces a darker tint.