I find Italian art to be the most powerful tonal art, the way the Italian artists use tone to create shapes and forms and depict out the light and dark to deceive the eye and create such a realism almost like a photo.
Such work as by Michelangelo and Battista Franco of still life using shading to create the forms of the body, to create an illusion and also a perspective to the viewer. The simplicity of the tone shows by how minimal the use of it is, the pieces are not heavily shaded and there is plenty of space on the canvas. Michelangelo and Franco are not scared to show this space and allow the eye to wander, depict and seek out the forms of the body.
This is similar to modern day advertising and modern art, people are often scared of space and feel they must fill but I personally believe when used in the correct way allowing space can be more powerful than filling it up.
Picture 1. Batisa Franco. Seated Nude Youth.
Picture 2. Michelangelo. Christ at the column
(The contribution of Philip Pouncey. The study of Italian Drawings. 1994)