A stippled ink drawing of a bust of Marcus Aurelius surrounded by flowers.

“Marcus Aurelius” (2021-22), stippled black ink, 140 x 100 centimeters. All images © Xavier Casalta, shared with permission

It took Xavier Casalta a phenomenal 2,300 hours over the course of 15 months to complete his largest work to date. Featuring numerous blooms surrounding a marble bust of Marcus Aurelius—one of ancient Rome’s most celebrated emperors and philosophers—the artist (previously) estimates that the illustration contains about 48 million dots of meticulously stippled black ink.

Known for his remarkably detailed depictions of flowers, architecture, and antiquities, Casalta applies China ink to paper one speck at a time. Densely clustered areas produce darker features that contrast more minimally inked highlights. He often depicts individual historical objects, like a Penny Black stamp or impressions of people and animals on early coins. He also fills entire sheets of paper with florals or geometry, like an intricate Roman mosaic or his Four Seasons series, created in collaboration with florist Swallows & Damsons.

Casalta is currently working a new, large-scale architectural piece–he’s spent 1,200 hours on it so far–which he plans to reveal in October. In 2024, that work will also become available as a limited-edition print. You can stay tuned to the artist’s Instagram for updates, and find more information on his website.

 

Two images of stippled ink drawings. The left image shows a Roman coin, and the right images shows a Black Penny stamp.

Left: Naxos Tetradrachm with Dionysus. Right: Penny Black stamp

A stippled ink drawing of numerous summertime flowers.

“Summer,” part of ‘Four Seasons’ in collaboration with Swallows & Damsons, stippled black ink, 56 x 56 centimeters

A stippled ink drawing of an ancient coin.

Tetradrachm featuring a lion’s head from Cyzicus, Mysia

A stippled ink drawing of numerous winter flowers and plants.

“Winter,” part of ‘Four Seasons’ in collaboration with Swallows & Damsons, stippled black ink, 56 x 56 centimeters

A detail of a stippled ink drawing of wintertime plants and flowers.

Detail of “Winter”

A stippled ink drawing of detailed flowers.

Detail of “Marcus Aurelius” in progress

A stippled ink drawing of a Roman mosaic in progress.

Detail of a mosaic in progress

A stippled ink drawing in progress of a classical facade.

Detail of a work in progress

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