See also: Conte, conte, and conté



An assortment of Contés
Georges Seurat, L’Écho (between 1883 and 1884), a Conté study for the painting Une Baignade, Asnières (Bathers at Asnières, 1884)

From the surname of its inventor, French painter and army officer Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755–1805), who created it in 1795.



Conté (countable and uncountable, plural Contés)

  1. (art) A drawing medium, usually square in cross-section, composed of compressed powdered charcoal or graphite mixed with a clay or wax base. [from mid 19th c.]
    Synonym: Conté crayon
    • 1849, H[enry] O’Neill, “Materials”, in A Guide to Pictorial Art: How to Use the Black Lead Pencil, Chalks, and Water Colours; [], 4th edition, London: George Rowney, & Co., [], OCLC 1008131515, part I, 2nd division (Light and Shade), page 10:
      Conté is an artificial chalk, of which there are various kinds. The square Conté, Number 1, is hard; Number 2, is soft; Number 3, is very soft. [] Dutch Chalk is a new kind, in some respects equal to the best Contés, and sold at a moderate price.
    • 1992, Carol Clark, “Catalogue”, in Robert P. O’Neill, editor, American Drawings and Watercolors (The Robert Lehman Collection; VIII), New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 51:
      A woman and a girl seated on chairs in a park. Conté crayon.
    • 2017, Al[bert F.] Gury, “Essential Drawing Materials”, in Foundations of Drawing: A Practical Guide to Art History, Tools, Techniques, and Styles, New York, N.Y.: Watson-Guptill Publications, →ISBN, page 48:
      Conté sticks and pencils are made of dry pigments mixed with wax or clay and compressed into square sticks or thin rods that can be held in a metal or wooden holder or sheath. Conté typically comes in varieties of whites, grays, browns, and blacks and in a range of densities from soft to hard; the harder forms have more binder or wax and the softer less.

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