Read an Excerpt
Anatomical Diagrams for Art Students
By JAMES M. DUNLOP
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
SCIENCE AND ART are indeed sisters, but they are very different in their tastes, and it is no easy task to cultivate with advantage the favour of both. Artistic Anatomy is in its nature a scientific pursuit, dealing partly in explicit observation of details of form, partly in the explanation of the causes producing them; while the details themselves are among those with which the followers of Art require to be familiar; and are sometimes of little apparent scientific importance save from an artistic point of view. In these circumstances it is little to be wondered at that this department of knowledge has not been more fully explored.
Properly conceived of, Artistic Anatomy undertakes the systematic study of the particulars of superficial form, the accurate description of them one by one, and the investigation of the structural and functional causes on which they depend.
Among the phenomena to be considered, the proportions of the great divisions of the body one to another claim an important place, and have justly received attention from remote times. Rules have been laid down by which an ideal standard has been sought to be fixed, the deviations produced by age and sex being taken into account; and while such standards are more or less artificial, and not to be too slavishly followed to the extent of an unnatural uniformity, they certainly are invaluable as expressing a mean which cannot be deviated from to more than a limited extent without transgressing the laws of nature and producing deformity.
Each part of the body has also its particular proportions, and the study of proportions passes gradually into that of details of shape. All these details are capable of being taken one by one and systematically described. But this cannot be done either accurately or instructively without reference to the subjacent structures on which they depend, and the actions governing the conditions of such structures.
Subcutaneous prominences of bone afford so many constant points in the surface of the figure, while the softer subcutaneous tissues sometimes occur in masses of such firmness as to be but little affected by change of attitude, and in other instances are flaccid, pendulous, wrinkled or stretched. But the muscles and their tendons produce the greatest variations of local form in different persons and in different attitudes; muscular substance swelling when in action, while tendons are incapable alike of swelling and of altering their total length, but may stand out when they are tightened over the concavity formed by the bending of a joint. Also lines of attachment to subcutaneous bone, themselves incapable of change of form, may in different circumstances be prominent or sunk according to the degree of swelling of the muscles around. Besides all this it must be noted that muscular contractions cause, especially in the face, lines, elevations, and depressions, not corresponding to the shapes of the muscles, but produced by the displacement of skin and subcutaneous fat, as illustrated by the elevation of the cheek and lower eyelid in laughter, and by the formation at the same time of the lines called crows' toes, and it does seem possible that a more careful analysis than has been attempted of the lines and displacements occurring in different expressions might yield better results than are to be obtained from such works as those of Le Brun, Sir Charles Bell, Piderit and Darwin, however valuable these may be. It may also be mentioned that considerations in connection with balance, respiration, mental capacity and race fall within the scope of Artistic Anatomy.
If these views are allowed to be correct, it will be admitted that the field of Artistic Anatomy has never been covered; and if this task be ever undertaken it must be for its own sake, aiming at independent completeness, and not at mere assistance to Artists. Much will thus be brought to light, in all probability now unsuspected, and Art and Philosophy will both be gainers.
While, however, Art is one thing and Artistic Anatomy quite another, and while it is to be acknowledged that beautiful representations may be achieved without any anatomical knowledge, this only shows how much can be done by practised observation led on by intuitive appreciation which, often unconsciously, guides the mind to the accomplishment of its aims. But such success is neither easy nor to be depended on, and the general average thus obtainable cannot be expected to be so good as would be obtained if observation were assisted by acquaintance with the meaning of the shapes observed. The greatest masters, including notably Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, have found that to give intelligence to their efforts at representation, and enable them to understand the indispensable relations of parts it was necessary to call in the aid of dissection. For the eye, though often, even when well trained, at fault, especially when invention is brought into play, is yet subtle to detect instinctively the unsatisfactoriness of error.
It seems sometimes to be supposed that Artistic Anatomy is merely Anatomy made easy for Artists by omitting explicit details and all mention of internal organs,—superficial Anatomy in both senses of the word. But what is superficial in the sense of being slovenly is of little use to any one. The Professional Anatomist addressing his discourse to Artists, and desiring to give them the information for which they crave, cannot help seeing at once that there is much internal structure which can have no possible bearing on Art, but he will fail altogether in his purpose if he does not note that the artist seeks for direction with regard to details which are often of small interest to the surgeon, and have received little attention from Anatomists.
Two of the sets of considerations most important to the Artist will easily be seen to be, one, the part played by the skeleton in determining the external form, and another, the precise extent and attachments of superficial muscles, together with the disposition of muscular fibre and tendon in individual muscles. It is principally to these two considerations that Mr. Dunlop directs attention in the following pages, appealing to the eye, instead of depending on description; and it appears to me that the method which he has selected, and the manner in which he has carried it out, provide for the Art Student a singularly compendious and desirable book, easily consulted, and occupying ground which has not hitherto been taken up. It is not the whole subject of Artistic Anatomy, but only one department of it which is here dealt with. The facts taught are brought out with diagrammatic simplicity and precision which cannot fail to bring them clearly and prominently before the student, thus giving him immense assistance. I have pleasure therefore in anticipating for this useful work a great success.
Excerpted from Anatomical Diagrams for Art Students by JAMES M. DUNLOP. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.