Wednesday, 18 May 2016



Gabriel Smith (1724–83)
Four anatomical studies (viz. nose, mouth, eye and ear) from “The School of Art”, published by Carington and John Bowles and Robert Sayer, London, 1765
Crayon-manner, soft-ground stipple etchings printed in sanguine colour on soft laid paper
Size of each print: (sheet) 43.5 x 27.3 cm; (plate) 33.3 x 23.1 cm
Condition: strong impressions with wide margins (as published). The margins show signs of significant handling (i.e. bumped, chipped and folded edges with some losses, tears, stains and general dustiness) but the plate areas (i.e. the images) are in good condition.

I am selling these four 18th century etchings originally used for art students to study and copy for AU$118 in total (currently US$85.80/EUR76.11/GBP59.40 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. If you are interested in purchasing this set of early anatomical studies from 1765, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.









Drawings translated into prints such as these are the fundamental instructional fodder that past generations of art students were obliged to study and copy. Invariably they had pin holes in their corners and displayed flicks and spatters of ink and other less romantic stains that attest to their use in the studio. Fortunately, these particular prints are almost free from such calamities. Nevertheless, close inspection will reveal a few spatters on their backs that stand as testimony to student endeavours to copy the master’s drawings.

Although I believe strongly that copying old master drawings offers profound insights into how figures move by giving graphic examples of how muscles and bones exert pressures that push and pull on a figure’s body, from a pedagogical standpoint, this teaching model may not be so relevant in the present digital age. After all, I can understand the argument—even if I don’t completely agree with it—that today’s art students can explore the figure in a 3D-virtual world, where the idea of relying on a fixed template of set facial expressions may seem very limited.

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