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A Little History of Art

A Tribute to Mother’s Day

Four Artists who depicted their mother in their work.

Maya Angelou- 1928-2014

Angelou was an acclaimed poet, storyteller, singer and activist. Her message usually centers around that mankind is more alike than different. One of her 36 books, written over her lifetime, was titled, “Mom & Me & Mom”. In this book she examines a complicated relationship with her mother.

Maya Angelou

Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun- 18th Century

Brun was famous for depicting the evolution of French society . She was inspired by the Madonna paintings of High Renaissance. She painted two works with the same title, “Self-Portrait with Her Daughter”. Brun used herself and her daughter, Julie as the subject for these two paintings. In one painting she painted herself smiling and open mouthed, which was controversial at that time.

Mary Cassatt- 1889

Cassatt was an impressionist painter who painted a portrait of her ailing mother. She was not a mother herself, but she depicted mothers and their children in every day life settings. Cassatt’s parents moved in with her and her mother became her new subject.

Mary Cassatt 1889. Portrait of the the Artist’s Mother

James Abbott McNeill Whistler- 1834-1903

The painting done by Whistler called, “Whistler’s Mother” is considered a happy accident. First of all, the story goes that his mother, Anna McNeill Whistler volunteered to pose for the portrait only because his model did not show up. He intended to do a study in grey and black and thought the subject posing was not important. But, the public viewed the subject as being very important and re-named the painting, “Whistler’s Mother”.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Whistler’s Mother

My Mom, Alice Ann. She is a tiny 5″ tall woman weighing only 94 lbs. She has been a power house all of her life, full of energy and a voracious appetite for learning new things. She raised 3 children and worked full time while doing it. She worked to put my dad through Law School and took care of all three of us. When she retired from her Supervisor job at A.T.&T. at the age of 50, she went on to become a Travel Agent, a Real Estate Agent, and had her own little antique shop, (not all at the same time), and traveled. These were lifelong dreams for her and she dabbled in them all for short periods of time. After my dad died, she did Tai Chi, Ball Room dancing, volunteered at her local library and traveled some more. She has been to most of the European countries.

Alice in now 83 years old and has finally slowed down. She has a new Chihuahua named Winston and has had a lot of health issues in the past several years. I miss the dynamic power house that she used to be, but now that she has slowed down, we have become closer. I have been her caregiver several times during her serious illnesses, and we have spent a lot of time together. I would not give up this time that I have spent with her for anything.

“Mom” by Karen Morningstar 2021. A quick sketch of my mom in a hospital bed during a recent hospital visit.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you liked what you read, please leave a comment and subscribe if you feel so inclined. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there! Take care.

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A Little History of Art

Edith Holden The Edwardian Lady

The book, The Edwardian Lady, speaks about Edith Holden who was an illustrator and writer. She was born in 1871 and died in 1920. She was a prolific naturalist artist, drawing and painting the outdoors and all that the outdoors entails. Looking at her artwork you can see that she knew her subject well. She was also an accomplished portraitist. She drew friends, family, neighbors, and their dogs.

Edith Holden’s Diary of the year 1906

Edith seemed to be a kind, and friendly person and made sure to give handmade cards on birthdays and other special occasions. She kept copious Nature Notes and drawings. “As stated in these notes Edith was able to walk down many lanes and across many fields”, quoted from The Edwardian Lady. Edith’s diary listed all the varieties of birds and flowers found in the area where she lived in the year 1906. Her artwork was exhibited in local venues.

Wildflowers by Edith Holden

At the age of 20 Edith went to study with animal painter J. Denovan Adam and 25 other students at his Craigmill studio in Scotland. When she returned home 12 months later, she began to produce four paintings a year for the Royal Birmingham exhibitions. 

In 1911, Edith married Alfred Ernest Smith, he was 7 years younger than the 40 year old Edith. They were married till Edith’s death in 1920 from an accident while out on her nature walk and gathering specimens to draw and paint. In the book, The Edwardian Lady, it states that, “Edith was trying to reach for a branch of Chestnut buds. The bough was out of reach and with her umbrella tried to break it off, had fallen forward into the river and drowned.”

Biography of Edith Holden

The Country Diary of An Edwardian Woman by Edith Holden is filled with her nature drawings collected over one years time (1906) in her diary. Her attention to detail is beautiful and amazing. All of her paintings and illustrations show her love for the subjects. She gives day to day insight of her observations and activities, along with writing down poems and thoughts.

A page from Edith Holden’s diary

These two books are well worth picking up if you find them. I keep them in my library of art books for inspiration. The artwork is enjoyable to view, especially after learning the history of Edith’s life and her lifelong passion for nature studies and painting.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. Take care and see you next time!

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A Little History of Art

5 Female Artists Who Helped to Change Art History (Some you may have never heard of)

  1. Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun lived from 1755-1842. Brun was a portrait painter who was assisted by Marie Antoinette with getting into the French Academy at age 28. Brun served as the portrait painter to Marie Antoinette. Because of her association with Marie Antoinette, Brun was forced to flee during the French Revolution. During this time away, she obtained commissions throughout the courts of Europe, Naples, Florence, Vienna, St. Petersburg and Berlin. During her lifetime, she created 660 portraits and 200 landscapes.
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755–1842 Paris) Comtesse de la Châtre (Marie Louise Perrette Aglaé Bontemps, 1762–1848), Later Marquise de Jaucourt, 1789 Oil on canvas; 45 x 34 1/2 in. (114.3 x 87.6 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Jessie Woolworth Donahue, 1954 (54.182) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/437900

2. Beth Morisot was French, living from 1941-1895. She was known for her impressionistic style of painting. She married Eugene Manet, the brother of Edouard Manet. Their daughter and domestic scenes were her focus subjects. During her lifetime she achieved significant critical recognition.

Berthe Morisot, The Cage, 1885; Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 15 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

3. Hilma af Klint lived in Sweden from 1862-1944. She was an Artist and a Mystic. Her paintings were the first Western abstract art seen in 1906 and were like paintings never seen before. They were bold, colorful, not of the physical world. She kept her paintings private, stipulating that they not be allowed to be shown till 20 years past her death in 1986. She felt the world was not yet ready for her other worldly style of abstraction.

Display of Hilma af Klint paintings.

4. Georgia O’Keeffe lived from 1887-1986 in America. She is recognized as the “Mother of American Modernism”. O’Keeffe started at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905 and ranked at the top of her class. She was a model before becoming an artist and gave up modeling to become an artist. O’Keeffe was one of the first American artists to produce purely abstract works of art in a time when American Realism dominated. After her death, her painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 which she painted in 1932, sold in auction to Walmart heiress Alice Walton for $44,405,000. What mattered most to Georgia O’Keeffe was to be a “great artist”, not a “great woman artist”.

Quote: “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Georgia O’Keeffe.

Young Georgia O’Keeffe as a model.
Display of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. “Black Hollyhock, Blue Larkspur” 1930 and Hills in Northern New Mexico.
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Music Pink and Blue”

5. Frida Kahlo lived from 1907-1945 in Mexico. Frida is viewed today as the icon of female creativity. Known for her portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and relics of Mexico, she used an Naive Folk Art style. Kahlo was disabled by polio as a child, suffered a severe bus accident at age 18 which caused lifelong pain and medical problems. Because she spent a great amount of time convalescing she used that time in bed to learn how to paint. She had more than 30 operations in her lifetime.

Kahlo remained relatively unknown till the 1970’s. Themes she used for her paintings deal with identity, the human body and death. She was part German and Mexican and these themes were important to her in her works. Her flamboyant style of dressing was to honor her Mexican side. She has risen to “Fridamania” status in our time.

Frida Kahlo self portrait.

The years that these women were making art were years that women were not recognized as artists. These women overcame this obstacle and pushed forward to be the best artists that they could be. This makes me desire to be the best that I can be also, whether as an artist, wife, daughter or friend. I don’t have these obstacles to overcome and am allowed to strive to be and achieve my best.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Take care.

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A Little History of Art

Artists and Their Beloved Animals.

Scientists conducted a massive research years ago involving psychologists, biologists, zoologists, etc, It seems the stereotypes about pet owners are true. Cat people tend to be more introverted, intuitive, sensitive, rebellious and creative. Dog-lovers are mostly very open, friendly, sociable, active and more likely to follow rules. Cats are the best stress relieving creatures and scientists say may serve as antidepressants. Dog owners tend to earn more, and are twice as likely to work in the financial field. Cat people tend to like documentaries, musicals and indie films. Dog-lovers are bigger fans of horror and action. Our pets have a positive impact on us and make us happy in so many ways.

Pets increase your mental and emotional wellbeing. They boost your creativity. Dogs help with this by getting you out in the fresh air for walks and getting exercise. According to a recent study, creative thinking improves while walking and for a period of time afterwards. By increasing a brain chemical called oxytocin (a “love hormone”) and decreasing cortisol (a hormonal alarm system).

Human Animal Bond Research Institute HABRI, is doing a “Pet Effects Campaign”. They put out videos that are parodies of prescription drug commercials encouraging adoption of cats and dogs. One video promoting adoption of a cat states, relief from a litany of health problems and that “I found better health with cat!” Then a rundown of side effects such as “difficulty breathing due to cat is sleeping on your face”, “difficulty working because your cat is on your computer”. The video ends with a suggestion to “discover better health; ask your veterinarian about cat”. You can watch these videos on http://www.thepeteffectcampaign.com or www.https://habri.org/the-pet-effect/, scroll down and you will find the videos. They also have brochures in the same genre.

Many famous artists owned a variety of pets. Henri Matisse had cats and doves. He gave some of his doves to Pablo Picasso who then made the piece, The Dove of Peace, 1949.

Henri Matisse and his doves. 1944
Pablo Picasso The Dove of Peace 1944

Picasso had a dachshund named Lump for 16 years. He also had doves, owls, a mouse and a goat. Picasso and lump died within ten days of each other.

Pablo Picasso and his dachshund Lump.
Pablo Picasso “Lump” the dachshund

Salvador Dali had ocelots which are dwarf leopards native to Latin America.

Salvador Dali and his ocelot.

Frida Kahlo was an exotic animal lover, she had dogs, cats, monkeys, and a fawn.

Frida Kahlo and her fawn and dog.
Frida Kahlo Self Portrait with Monkeys.

Georgia O’Keeffe had chows and a poodle. the chows were given to her after the poodle was killed in a car accident. She owned a total of 6 chows over her lifetime.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s chows.

Andy Warhol had cats and dachshunds.

Andy Warhol and his dachshund.

Beloved animals appear in artworks, poems, stories and photographs throughout the ages. They play an important role in artists lives, helping to keep balance and harmony. If you are an animal lover, remember that maybe instead of or in conjunction with taking a pill, having a furry loved one in your life can help keep you healthy.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment if you feel so inclined. Happy Easter if you celebrate. Otherwise happy Spring, yeah!

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A Little History of Art

The Intruder

My husband and I were held captive for two weeks by an unwanted intruder. This intruder randomly chose us and snuck in unawares. We had heard of this occurring to others and we guarded against it happening to us, to no avail. This intruder effected every aspect of our lives, preventing us from doing normal daily routines. Eating was taken from us. Sleep was forced upon us but we were at the same time deprived of it. Pain became an every day experience, our strength was sapped from us.

The intruder I am speaking of is, COVID-19. It caught up to us, it found us in our small town. This deadly, silent enemy has been a part of all of our lives for more than a year now. We all know people who have had it and survived. We all know people who did not survive. Our friend’s daughter who was in her early 40’s died from it last month.

Black Death. Artist unknown.
unknown artist; A Physician Wearing a Seventeenth-Century Plague Preventive Costume; Wellcome Collection; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/a-physician-wearing-a-seventeenth-century-plague-preventive-costume-240440
Illness. Unknown artist.

There have been plagues and pandemics throughout history that the artworld has recorded for us. There are numerous paintings, drawings, block prints, etc. of sickness, people at death’s door, doctors, saints healing and death. In the 1600’s a children’s Nursery Rhyme was written by James Fitzgerald for the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) that goes like this,

“Ring around the rosies, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down.”

This is how I knew the rhyme as a child.

Apparently the original rhyme went like this,

Ring-a-ring-a-roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.

There are many versions of the rhyme, and they all don’t have the same general meaning.

Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes (1881) was the first publication of “Ring Around the Rosie” in English. Her illustration was published in 1881 and is therefore in the public domain.

I am thankful to have survived the COVID-19. There were times during my illness when I wondered if I would, and other times when I just wanted to be put out of my misery. I am still on the mend, but feeling 95% better. I look forward to getting back into making art and enjoying life again.

Stay healthy and thank you for reading. If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment.

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A Little History of Art

The Poor Photographer

Ansel Adams is a household name, his photographic masterpieces are familiar to most of us. The younger generations may not know the name Ansel Adams, but they have certainly seen the images of his famous Yosemite’s Half Dome sometime in their lives.

Moon and Half Dome Yosemite Ansel Adams 1960. One of his last well known photographs

Adams was born today February 20, 1902 and died April 22, 1984. He was 82 years old. He spent the majority of his life, six decades, traversing the High Sierra terrain, most specifically, Yosemite, and photographing the American Wilderness. During his month long hikes through the wilds, Adams photographed images of the beauty that he loved so well. He would fight for this wilderness to keep it preserved for all to enjoy for many, many years to come after his passing. His life’s journey was as a photographer and conservationist.

In Adams’ younger years he believed that he would be a pianist. He taught himself to play the piano and read music at the age of 12. Music became his obsession and he was quite an accomplished pianist. But, he also had a love of Nature. He would spend every summer for four years as the Keeper of Sierra Club’s nearby lodge in Yosemite Valley. These summer forays began to encroach on his music and he had to make a choice. Through the influence of a man named Best who would assist Adams financially and in the showing of his works, he made the decision to pursue the photography. Adams met his future wife through this man, who was her father.

Adams struggled financially throughout his years until late in life despite the exhibitions of his work. He took on commercial photography jobs to support him and his endeavors as an artistic photographer. The all too familiar irony is that his works, especially the originals, which are a finite number at this time, are worth thousands. They are priced at $40,000- $70,000 per original. His “Oak Tree, Sunset City” is worth $14,900.

Oak Tree, Sunset City Ansel Adams 1963

What makes his photographs worth so much? Well, surely not pure luck. His life was spent perfecting and rejecting. He was not satisfied with mediocre. He strived for the best by working 18 hour days for weeks on end, then collapsing from exhaustion. He was also an artist with a perfected eye for beauty and composition. A quote I took about him form the Ansel Adams Gallery on line says, “Rare ability to transform geographic reality into a transcendent emotional experience for the viewer”. Who could have said it better? His works evoke emotions that cause tears to spring to the eyes.

Ansel Adams in younger years

You can view Ansel Adams works at http://www.anseladams.com. You can also purchase one of his original works or prints at this website.

Thanks for reading. It is always fun bringing facts about the history of art to you through this blog. This particular one was serendipitous, meaning, I did not plan to do a post about Ansel Adams on his birthday, it just happened by chance!

Take care and if you feel so inclined, sign up for more fun facts like this every two weeks.

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A Little History of Art

Albrecht Durer, more than just a product name.

You may recognize the name Albrecht Durer. You have most likely seen it on artist supplies such as watercolor paints or watercolor pencils. But, the name is more than an art supply line. Albrecht Durer was a German painter, printmaker, and theorist who lived from 1471-1528. His watercolors mark him as one of Europe’s first landscape artists.

Innsbruck by Albrecht Durer done in 1498 or after 1506
The Willow Mill by Albrecht Durer done in 1498 or after 1506

Durer was a prolific artist. He did copious amounts of woodblock prints, watercolors and religious themed works from Bible stories and people of the Bible. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties. The amount of detail in his works is astonishing, especially the woodblock prints.

“If man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle” Quote Albrecht Durer.

Durer invented an upright wire grid that he set up in front of him, then was used while drawing a human figure. He would peer through this grid at his model from a viewpoint that foreshortened his visual image of the model. He then used paper the same size as the wire grid marked off with identical grid lines. He would draw exactly what he saw through the grid , matching in his drawing the exact angles and curves and lines. This produced a foreshortened view of the model in his drawing. (See “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, for a more detailed description)

Albrecht Durer’s Foreshortening Technique

In 1494 he married the daughter of a local merchant through arrangement. Not long after his marriage he travelled to Italy, leaving his wife behind in Nuremberg, Germany where they were married. While in Italy, Durer was influenced by artist Jacopo de Babari in the new developments in perspective, anatomy and proportion. Italy is where he began using Tempera, painting on linen.

1521 proved to be an unfortunate year for him. It was the year he caught an undetermined illness which afflicted him the rest of his life. In the later years of his life he produced very little in the way of artwork, but began writing. He finished two books in his lifetime, one on geometry and perspective and one on fortification. His work on human perspective was brought out shortly after his death in 1528.

Self Portrait by Albrecht Durer
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse woodblock print by Albrecht Durer
Young Hare by Albrecht Durer 1502

If you are interested, see Albrect Durer.org/the complete works to view many more of the works he accomplished. It is an interesting perusal and a lesson in perspective in itself when viewing his paintings. His woodblock prints have mind boggling detail. It makes one wonder how long those woodblock (Woodblock printing works by carving words or pictures onto a large block of wood.) carvings must have taken to do. Albrecht Durer must have been a very patient man and he certainly was not an “idle man” (See above quote).

Thanks for reading. As always, I am glad to impart a little fun information to anyone who is interested in art and it’s history. And, if you feel so inclined, leave me a comment and sign up for more articles like this one. Take care.

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Progress Report

At Face Value.

It has been a while since I posted any of the artwork that I have been working on. I have been focusing on a genre, if you will, that I haven’t been painting for the past few years, but now I am back to my first love. What is my first love, you may ask? Well, faces, is the answer. I am always drawn (no pun intended) to faces. I love faces. So, that is what I have been painting of late. Painting faces, not literally painting on people’s faces, ha ha, but painting people’s faces and then adding some other element to the picture gives me joy. I like adding mixed media to the acrylic paintings to make them a little different.

The Blues ” Acrylic and mixed media on paper.
“Sweety” Acrylic and mixed media on paper.

I have been using acrylics on paper instead of canvas which is new for me. I prefer using the paper to the canvas right now and may never go back to canvas.

“Incognito” Acrylic and mixed media on paper.
“She Waits” Acrylic and mixed media on paper
“Camera Shy” Acrylic on paper.

Thank you for reading and following my blog. It is very much appreciated. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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A Little History of Art

Today’s little history is about a female American artist named Cecilia Beaux, who lived from 1855-1942. Cecilia Beaux painted beautiful realistic portraits of prominent people in New York and Philadelphia society. She never married, choosing rather to dedicate her time to art and painting portraits.

Cecilia Beaux Self Portrait 1894 Oil on Canvas

Cecilia never knew her mother who died 12 days after giving birth to her. Cecilia’s father was so distraught over his wife’s death that he returned to France without his two daughters Cecilia and her older sister Aimee. They were left to be raised by relatives who were supportive of the two girl’s pursuits. Cecilia stated that her Uncle Willie was the biggest influence in her life and in developing her artistic talents. Her Aunt was an example of female independence and gave piano lessons for pay to help support the household.

Cecilia began her art studies at the age of 16 years old in New York City and Philadelphia. She opened an art studio in 1883 in Philadelphia, traveled to Europe and Paris in 1888-89 and studied art while there. When she returned to Philadelphia she earned a reputation as one of Philadelphia’s best portrait painters. In 1895 she became the first woman instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1900 she moved to New York and obtained commissions for a series of portraits including Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and her daughter. The list of commissions includes other prominent people of that time.

Cecilia started her art career by painting faces of children on unfired porcelain plates. To make money she did detailed drawings of fossils and shells for paleontologist E.D. Cope. This was a paying job only. She disliked portraying anything except people and an occasional cat.

Sita and Sarita Portrait of Sarah Allibone-Leavitt, 1896

Quote: “A perfect technique in anything only means that there has been no break in continuity between conception, or thought, and the act of performance.”

Quote: “Line is line, space is space- wherever found. The consideration of them is necessary to every work of art, and no such work can exist without them.”

New England Woman, 1895

New England Woman is probably my favorite of Cecilia Beaux’s paintings. I like the informality of the room and sitter. It feels as if you are part of the painting, waiting for the news that has just come, in the form of a letter. Who is the letter from? What did they have to say that causes the woman to look off dreamily. I love the use of subtle colors playing in the whites in the woman’s gown and the surroundings.

Cecilia Beaux lived in a time when there weren’t many successful female artists. She was able to succeed despite this. She was able to prove her worth in doing portraiture, what she loved doing most. She was a leader in showing women that doing what you love as your life’s work can be done. She worked hard for what she wanted. She is an example and inspiration for women even now.

You can view a display of Cecilia Beaux’s artwork at http://www.pafa.org/museum/collection, PAFA Museum (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts).

I hope you enjoyed this article. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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Sunday Nov. 1

Officially California is in the fall season (even though where I live it has still been in the upper 70’s during the day), with the leaves on the trees turning beautiful colors. It is amazing to think that the fall colors are actually the death of the tree’s leaves. But wonderful to think that a renewing will come again in the Spring.

Fall is my favorite time of the year because of the lovely colors and the cooling down of the weather. Everywhere I go in the Fall, I am oohing and awing and saying to whomever I am with, “Look at that beautiful tree”, or “Oh look at those colors” Usually no one else appreciates the colors like I do. My husband is outside sucking up the leaves from our lawn right now as I type.

Anyway, I hope you are having a lovely Sunday and 1st day of Nov. 2020.

A Little History of Art

Anatomy Man.

Anatomy Man by Thea Fiore-Bloom. Mixed Media collage page from her sketchbook soon to be a part of the permanent collection of the Brooklyn art Library.

When anatomy is mentioned, the first thought that comes to mind is, science, medicine, doctors, etc. Anatomy has been a very important field of study for these purposes. But speaking of anatomy usually doesn’t bring to mind any great artwork. Unless, like me, you worked in the medical field and were fascinated with anything medical all of your life.

Have you ever wondered how anatomy was studied in the early ages? Surely not everyone had access to a cadaver to dissect. But, this was exactly how anatomy was studied before the early 1500’s. There were no textbooks with colored images of the human anatomical parts for aiding study.

The medieval embalming practices were not at all like what we have today. The corpse was embalmed with spices placed in the mouth, ears and nose. The body was rubbed with “good white wine” heated with smelling herbs. A good embalming allowed a corpse to be preserved for up to eight days for observation. This does not include dissection of a corpse. Which brings to mind horrible images of an unbelievable stench! (See The University of Rhode Island, Quadangles Online for more info. if this subject interests you)

In comes anatomy art. Anatomy art for learning was probably developed out of self defense, saving the olfactory senses of the student. There are anatomical plates dating as far back as 1522. The images of these plates are now archived in the Anatomia Library in Toronto Canada. These are crude, inaccurate images of anatomy of the human body that were carved onto wood. They were used to make images in books for study. The anatomical illustrations of this day were based on astrological factors , but not scientific observation and were practically useless as serious teaching materials.

Anatomia Collection: Anatomical plates 1522. Anatomia Library University of Toronto, Canada

The study of human anatomy made slow progress prior to 1543. Other branches of medicine had more attention during the Renaissance period. Even the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1450 did not result in more anatomical texts and illustrations. The year 1543 brought in the publishing of Vesalius’ “De humani corporis fabrica” in Switzerland.

Vesalius’ book provided the textual basis for a new scholarly approach to anatomy and brought in the beginnings of anatomical illustration based on direct scientific observation. This book is filled with woodcut illustrations that are accurately rendered by a talented artist. This set the standard for all anatomical illustration that followed.

Vesalius’ “De humani corporis fabrica” 1543 (I like how the skeleton is placed in a standing position and it is in a garden-like setting. Maybe that is it’s tomb it is facing)

The year 1627 bought an increase in anatomical knowledge thanks to copperplate engravings and etchings which replaced the woodcuts. This was also a time of the first attempt to use color to distinguish body parts.

In the 1730’s to 1778, Albius established a new method of anatomic illustration. He used composites of masses of observations. He insisted on exactness of detail. Albius employed a great artist by the name of Jan Wandelaar. The resulting plates combining the two methods, scientific accuracy with artistic renderings, became the norm.

Albinus 1778. Illustrations by Jan Wandelaar.
Albinus 1778. Illustrations by Jan Wandelaar.

Printing and lithography in the 19th century could be mass produced and widely distributed. Chromolithography in the 1830’s introduced the highest levels reached in anatomical illustration. The 20th century printing techniques, photographic processes along with computer imaging has continued to bring scientific advances in the knowledge of anatomy.

Anatomy art is not only useful for medical study of the human body, but it can help improve the art of any figure artist. If an artist has a working knowledge of anatomy, they are able to render a more accurate portrait or figure drawing.

Life Drawing Academy. Use of the knowledge of anatomy for accurate portraits.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about anatomy art. I tried to add only the images that were not too radically gory. I don’t want to scare anybody off! If you are interested in seeing more (gory) images of the first anatomical artworks mentioned here, you can view them at the Anatomia.Library.utoronto.ca/about/history-illustration.

Thank you for reading. If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment and sign up for more blog posts like this.

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