Artistic anatomy of animals
A few lines will suffice to explain why we have compiled the present volume, to what wants it responds, and what its sphere of use may possibly embrace. In our teaching of plastic anatomy, especially at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts — where, for the past nine years, we have had the very great honour of supplementing the teaching of our distinguished master, Mathias Duval, after having been prosector for his course of lectures since 1881 — it is our practice to give, as a complement to the study of human anatomy, a certain number of lessons on the anatomy of those animals which artists might be called on to represent.
Now, we were given to understand that the subject treated in our lectures interested our hearers, so much so that we were not surprised to learn that a certain number repeatedly expressed a desire to see these lectures united in book form.
To us this idea was not new; for many years the work in question had been in course of preparation, and we had collected materials for it, with the object of filling up a void of which the existence was to be regretted. But our many engagements prevented us from executing our project as early as we would have wished. It is this work that we publish today.
Putting aside for a moment the wish expressed by our hearers, we feel ourselves in duty bound to inquire whether the utility of this publication is self-evident. Let it be clearly understood that we wish to express here our opinion
on this subject, while putting aside every personal sentiment of an author. No one now disputes the value of anatomical studies made in view of carrying out the artistic representation of man. Nevertheless — for we must provide against all contingencies — the conviction on this subject may be more or less absolute; and yet it must possess this character in an intense degree in order that these studies, may be profitable, and permit the attainment of the goal which is proposed in undertaking them.
It is in this way that we ever strive to train the students whose studies we direct; not only to admit the value of these studies but to be materially and deeply convinced of the fact without -any restriction. Such is the sentiment that we endeavour to create and vigorously encourage. And we may be per- mitted to add that we have often been successful in this direction.
Therefore it is that, at the beginning of our lectures, and in anticipation of possible objections, we are accustomed to taking up the question of the utility of plastic anatomy. And in so doing, it is in order to combat at the outset the idea — as mischievous as it is false — which is sometimes imprudently enunciated, that the possession of scientific knowledge is likely to tarnish the purity and freshness of the impressions received by the artist and to place shackles on the emotional sincerity of their representation.
It is chiefly by the employment of examples that we approach the subject. These strike the imagination of the student more forcibly, and the presentation of models of a certain choice, although rough in execution, is, in our opinion, preferable to considerations of order possibly more exalted, but of a characterless clearly practical. Let us, then, ask the question:
Those artists whose eminence nobody would dare to question, did they study anatomy? If the answer is in the affirmative, we surely cannot permit ourselves to believe that we can dispense with a similar course. And, as proof of the studies of this class which the masters have made, we may cite Raphael, Michel- Angelo, and, above all, Leonardo da Vinci; and, of the moderns, Gericault. And we may more clearly define these proofs by an examination of the reproductions of their anatomical works, chosen from certain of their special writings.
Accordingly, there is no scope for serious discussion, and it only remains for us to enunciate the opinion that it is necessary that we should imitate those masters, and, with a sense of respectful discipline, follow their example. Here, with regard to the anatomy of animals, we pursue the same method, and the example chosen shall be that of Barye. His talent is too far above all criticism to allow that this example should be refused.
The admiration which the works of this great artist elicit is too widespread for us to remain uninfluenced by the lessons furnished by his studies. It is sufficient to see the sketches relating to these studies, and his admirable casts from nature which form part of the anatomical museum of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, to be convinced that the artistic temperament, of which Barye was one of the most brilliant examples, has nothing to lose by its association with re- searches the precision of which might seem likely to check its complete expansion.
the book details :
Author: Edouard Cuyer Translator: George Haywood,
Publication date: 1905
Company:London: Baillière, Tindall & Cox
Download 7.8 MB - PDF ebook
the book details :
Download 7.8 MB - PDF ebook