Monday, January 26, 2009

Figure Drawings by Irving Block - Writer and Designer of Forbidden Planet

These are some interesting figure drawings because they are by Irving Block the author of the story on which Forbidden Planet was based and the creator of Robbie the Robot. He was multi-talented as you can see in this IMDB page. He did special effects and visual effects, was a writer, producer, and production designer.

Before becoming a filmmaker he was a W.P.A. artist, you can see the social-realism influences in these drawings. There is an Oral history interview with Irving Block, 1965 Apr. 16, Archives of American Art, at the Smithsonian Institution website.

His papers are in the Smithsonian Institute. Wikipedia article. Review by Dennis Schwartz. Another web page about the movie.

Irving Block on Ebay.

Forbidden Planet Comic#1 May 1992

Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet (Ultimate Collector's Edition)

Robbie the Robot and Anne Francis.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Female Proportions, Male Proportions - Natuurlyk en schilderkonstig ontwerp der menschkunde

The figure divided into ten parts.

The female figure divided into nine parts.

Natural and artistic treatise of the science of humans.

Natuurlyk en schilderkonstig ontwerp der menschkunde :
leerende niet alleen de kennis van de gestalte, proportie, schoonheyd, muskelen, bewegingen, actien, passien, en welstand der menschbeelden : tot de teykenkunde, schilderkunde, beeldhouwery, bootseer en giet-oeffening toepassen : maar ook hoe sich een mensch na deselve regelen, in allerhande doeningh van gaan, staan, loopen, torssen, dragen, arbeyden, spreken en andere gebeerden : bevallig en verstandilijk aastellen zal a seventeenth century book about drawing published in 1683 has interesting engravings of male and female proportions and how to draw heads and figures.

The full text is available at the Internet Archive. The book on the web is from the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Here is an image at the Bildmuseet.

Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist's Guide to Form, Function, and Movement

Antique Sculptures in Engravings by Joachim von Sandrart

These figure prints are from a rare 17th century volume called Galleria Giustiniani, a complete record of the antiquities and statues of the famous Giustiniani art collection. The three plus others are for sale on Ebay.

Galleria Giustiniani on Ebay

The full text of the book is available on the web at

Here is the information provided by the seller on Ebay:
Joachim von Sandrart was born in 1606 in Frankfurt, Germany and died 82 years later in Nuremberg, Germany. Sandrart's father was a Calvinist who had fled Valenciennes, in the county of Hainaut (then under Spain) to Frankfurt. The younger Sandrart began a career as an artist, studying drawing. In 1620, he moved to Nuremberg, where he learned engraving. In Prague, the engraver Aegidius Sadeler advised him to specialize in painting. Around 1625, he became a pupil of the Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst in Utrecht. In Honthorst’s house, he met Peter Paul Rubens, whom he accompanied on Rubens' tour through Holland. After working for Honthorst at the English court, Sandrart traveled to Rome in 1629 where he met the artistic and intellectual community there. Between 1632 and 1635, he was employed by Vincenzo Giustiani (1564-1637) as the curator of his collection, which included an impressive number of antiques as well as late sixteenth-century and contemporary paintings. In Giustiniani's service, Sandrart oversaw the production of the Galleria Giustiniani, two deluxe volumes of engravings of ancient sculptures from the Giustiniani collection. Sandrart assembled a team of mostly Dutch and French artists to produce the engravings for the Galleria, including Theodor Matham, Michael Natalis, Renier Persin, Cornelis Bloemaert, Claude Mellan, and Francois Perrier. (19) During his years in Rome Sandrart occupied a position remarkably well connected to both Italian and northern artistic circles; he was initiated as a member of the association of northern artists in Rome, the Schildersbent, and in 1633 was elected to the Roman Academy of St. Luke. Two years after his return to Frankfurt (1635), Sandrart married Johanna Milkau. The Thirty Years War forced them to move to Amsterdam where Sandrart specialized in portrait painting. His clients included the most famous writers and poets, including Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) and Caspar Barlaeus (1584-1648). In 1645, Sandrart moved to an estate in Stockau, Germany which he had inherited from his father-in-law. He continued to paint, especially large works such as group portraits and altarpieces. Between 1651 and 1653, he worked for Emperor Ferdinand III (1608-1657). In 1670 he moved to Augsburg, and then to Nuremberg in 1673, founding academies in both cities. These art schools probably were studios in which amateurs and maybe Sandrart’s pupils had the opportunity to draw from life (Pevsner, 1940). In this period Sandrart composed his magnum opus, the Teutsche Academie, published in Nuremberg in 1675. A second part appeared in 1679 and an abridged Latin translation followed in 1683. The Galleria Giustiniani is full of engravings of the statues from the exceptional Giustiniani collection of art and antiquities. The Giustiniani brothers' immense wealth (they were scions of a Genoese dynasty that had made its fortune in the Eastern Mediterranean trade and banking); their presence in both the ecclesiastical and secular aristocratic spheres, and their differing but complimentary tastes (the Marchese Vincenzo, who wrote perspicaciously on art and was an especially acute connoisseur), secured them a leading position among their fellow collectors. The inventory made at the time of Vincenzo's death in 1637 detailed nearly 600 paintings and more than 1,800 ancient sculptures. The city guides sang the praise of Vincenzo's extraordinary collection: "There's no other palace in Rome which contains a similarly rich collection of ancient reliefs and statues". The dispersal of the collection began in the 18th century (when, in 1720, a great number of sculptures were sold to Thomas, 8th Earl of Pembroke). Then, at the beginning of the 19th century, Prince Vincenzo Giustiniani sold a few paintings to Lucien Bonaparte. Giustiniani was determined to sell the collection and used every means at his disposal, legal or illegal, to smuggle the paintings out of Rome in defiance of the trust law (the fedecommesso) which prohibited the sale of the collections of the nobility. A number of other noble families in Rome found themselves in similar dire circumstances and were obliged to sell their possessions during the Napoleonic occupation of Rome in order to pay the heavy taxes imposed by the French. The sale of the Borghese collection of antiquities to Napoleon in 1807 is a notable example.

The title page, an engraving of the Athena Sculpture is shown in this print.
Link to an article about the sculture.

Joachim von Sandrart made two prints showing how to make copies of statuary by tracing shadows cast by lantern or sunlight, they are on a page called Precursors of Photography by Thomas Weynants.

Annales du Musée et de l'École Moderne des Beaux-Arts ou Recueil complet de gravures: Galerie Giustiniani (French Edition)

Wikipedia article on Vencenzo Giustiniani.

A youthful Hercules in the Metropolitan Museum.

Italian article, Christina Strunck -
La sistemazione seicentesca delle sculture antiche
La Galleria Giustiniana e la galleria di palazzo Giustiniani a confronto

Some more images from the book.

More antique sculpture in prints from

More prints from the Galleria Giustiniani:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Aphrodite of Cyrene

The Aphrodite of Cyrene (Kyrene) was excavated from Libya in the early years of the twentieth century from a site which had been destroyed by and earthquake and the antiquities preserved from around the fourth century B.C.

Here is a description from Art and Archaeology By Archaeological Institute of America, February 1921:

As soon as the country had been conquered we continued the excavation and restoration of its most important monuments, as well as the archaeological exploration of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica—already initiated by that distinguished and lamented American, Mr. Richard Norton, whom Art And Archaeology fittingly commemorated in December 1919. Valuable objects of art, that bear witness to the work accomplished by us, are now being collected in the two Italian museums at Tripoli and at Benghazi. One sole piece of sculpture, among the many found, has been taken to Rome, carrying a greeting from the ancient colony—the statue, that alone, might, perhaps, suffice to re-pay the expenses and perils of our war. The beautiful Aphrodite from Cyrene, now in the Museo delle Terme, is, perhaps, the most beautiful in the whole world—were it possible to draw a comparison between the goddesses of beauty. According to the learned essay by Prof. L. Mariani, chief of the Italian Archaeological Office in Libya, this masterpiece is an original by a Greek artist of the IV century before Christ, perhaps Euphranor of Corinth. The goddess, carved in a block of the choicest Parian marble, transparent and warm in color, is represented nude in the style of the Anadyomene, rising from the sea-waves at the moment of her first appearance to mortals, and all wet and just pressing the water fiom her hair, and combing it. A sense of shame, a tremor of the body at contact with the air because of its nakedness, makes the delicate form shiver a little; and it is this ingenuous movement that renders the virgin nudity of the goddess perfectly chaste. This exquisite sculpture was found in the great hall of the recently excavated baths, along with many other beautiful and interesting statues: two groups of the Graces, an Eros drawing his bow, a Satyr with the child Bacchus, a Hermes in the manner of Polyclitus, and the colossal statue of Alexander the Great. This whole figure, cast in a solemn mould, breathes force and power, and is animated by the genius of the hero. It is an interesting sculpture both because it may perhaps be a copy of Alexander with the lance by the sculptor Lysippus, and also because the face shows us the portrait, not of the idealized Alexander, but of the great leader, thoughtful, yet daring in action, who meditates his great undertakings, his battles and conquests.

All these sculptures were overthrown by one of those earthquakes that were among the causes of the decadence of Cyrenaica toward the close of the IV century B. c. The splendid Hall of the Thermae, which was divided in three parts by beautiful Corinthian columns with transenne formed by the two groups of the Graces, must have been like a museum; and it was here that the people loitered while waiting for their baths.

These excavations and discoveries have thrown light upon every aspect of history and life in ancient times, as well as upon art. An inscription tells of a road from Cyrene to Apollonia that was re-built by the Emperor Hadrian in 118, because it had been tumulto iudaico eversa et corrupta; that is: broken up and destroyed by the Jews from Egypt and Cyrenaica during an insurrection when 220,000 Greeks and Romans were massacred.

Two views of the sculpture.

Pictures of the site.

The Aphrodite of Knidos and Her Successors: A Historical Review of the Female Nude in Greek Art

Ancient Greek Portrait Sculpture: Contexts, Subjects, and Styles

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review of The Sculptor and Art Student's Guide to the Proportions of the Human Form as it relates to Physiognomy

This is from Littell's The Living Age, Volume XXXII, January, February, March 1852.

In and article titled PHYSIOGNOMY, and in florid text the author proposes an extensive theory of Physiognomy which he find support for in three books of the time:

1. Nosology; or, Hints towards a Classification of Noses. By Eden Warwice. 1848.
2. Polyclet, oder van den Maassen des Menschen, u. s. w. Polycletus, or on the Proportions of the Human Figure, according to Sex and Age, with the Natural Dimensions by Rhenish Measure ; with a Treatise on the Differences between the Features of the Face and the Form of the Head in the various Races of the Earth ; being a continuation of Peter Camper, &c. By G. Schadow, Director of the Royal Academy at Berlin. la 2 parts, with 58 plates. Berlin, 1835.
Download a English translation of the first part of Dr. Schadow's book, the part that is on proportions of the human form, at or purchase a paperback copy of The Art Student's Guide to the Proportions of the Human Form

3. The Anatomy And Philosophy Of Expression As Connected With The Fine Arts
By Sir Charles Bell, K. H. 4th Edition. 1847.
"There is no single object presented to our senses which engrosses so large a share of our thoughts, emotions, and associations as that small portion of flesh and hlood a hand may cover, which constitutes the human face. There is nothing we gaze upon with such admiration, think of with so much fondness, long for with such yearning, and remember with such fidelity—nothing that gladdens us with such magic power, haunts us with such fearful pertinacity—common as it is, meeting us at every turn, there is nothing we peer into with such unflagging curiosity, or study with such insatiate interest. Nor is there anything surprising in the effect thus produced. For the face is not, like the hand or foot, a mere portion of ourself or of our neighbor; it is the very representative of our race —the one synonym of humanity..."

This is the portion influenced by Johann Gottfreid Schadow's book:
"...Following, therefore, this fundamental rule, which the Greek elaborated, however he was limited in developing it, we find that each sex and every age of life has a physiognomy proper to itself, and only to be rightly defined by its dissimilarity to that of another. Each has a beauty after its kind, which it belongs to the true artist to observe, and to the true physiognomist to discriminate. A child's face is unnatural to us which has either the finished features or ripened expression of the adult—a woman's unpleasant to us which has any of the characteristics of the other sex— nay, the very action and employment of the face has its appropriate time in the " seven ages of man," and is out of place elsewhere. Sir Charles Bell, like a true philosopher, has embodied the passion of weeping in a roaring child ; Le Brun, absurdly enough, in a middle-aged gentleman crying in a nightcap."

The Art Student's Guide To The Proportions Of The Human FormThe Art Student's Guide To The Proportions Of The Human Form

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