Monday, May 25, 2009

Review (In English!) of "Figures du Corps: Une Leçon d’Anatomie à l’École des Beaux-Arts" Catalog

I just stumbled upon a review--in English!--of the magnificent catalog Figures du Corps: Une Leçon d’Anatomie à l’École des Beaux-Arts, from an exhibition of the same name previously covered on this blog. The review parses the catalog nicely (for those of us, like myself, who have spent many hours gazing longingly at the images but are unable to read French):
The catalogue is an ode to the bewildering and wonderful arsenal of contraptions, tools, plaster casts, photographs, and any other useful aid created to assist artists in the study of human and animal figures.

Resembling part medical research facility and part life-science museum, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts gathered human and animal anatomical examples–ideal, real and atypical–for use in training.

For artists at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, academic training meant mastering the human figure. ...this training took place over a series of graduated steps, beginning with isolating parts of the human figure, to studying idealized forms in Greco-Roman statues, and, finally, working with live models.

The catalogue includes several examples of classical forms that have been worked over to reveal underlying skeletal and muscular structure. It is evidence of a startling lack of superficiality in their approach to their craft and art. There are numerous accounts of dissections of both humans and animals, and visits from surgeons to discuss recent medical discoveries....

One of the greatest costs in training was the hiring of live models. As a result, contraptions of all kinds–mannequins, photographs, stereoscope images–were made to substitute, or perhaps more accurately, supplement, models...

A great deal of the catalogue is dedicated to the anatomical models of animals, especially horses Just as in England, where George Stubbs (British , 1724-1806) led a generation of artists at the Royal Academy to explore and correctly understand the anatomy of horses, the French Academy invested a great deal in equine models.
You can see the full review--with more images--on the Bearded Roman website by clicking here. You can find out more about the catalog (highly, highly recommended!) by clicking here. Click on images to see larger, more detailed images; all images drawn from the Bearded Roman website.

Images top to bottom: Skulls of humans and various animals from the Galerie Huguier. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 2008; Paul Richer (Chartes, 1849-Paris, 1933) The Runner, phénakistiscope (1895) 70 by 45 by 15 cm. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Mannequin d'atelier articulé, fin du XCIII siècle. Signed, "Guillois." École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Hermann Heid (Darmstadt, 1834-Vienna, 1891) Étude comparée de la forme d'un avant-bras en pronation et de son squelette (1880) 14 by 10.3; 13.8 by 10.3. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Fourteen hands, and seven human feet (Nineteenth Century) Éecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Bust of Decartes, with incorporated skull (1913) Plaster, in three parts. 44 by 27 by 28 cm. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Jean Bosq (1812-1830?.

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