Saturday, April 17, 2010

John Flaxman Anatomical Studies for the Use of Artists


Anatomy of the skeleton front view, side view, back view, bones of the torso and hips.

Muscles of the arm and shoulder, side view, front view'

John Flaxman, sculptor, was born at York in 1755 and died at London in 1826. He left a number of anatomic studies treating of the skeleton, the muscles of the trunk, and the extremities.

Another anatomical illustration by John Flaxman at the University of Cambridge, Wellcome Trust.

From Fritz Schider's An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists "The anatomical studies left by Flaxman were not intended as atextbook for artist, nor were they published during his lifetime. Nineteen plates, together with two by Robertson, were published in London in 1833 under the title Anatomical Studies of the Bones and Muscles for the Use of Artists from the drawings of the late John Flaxman engraved by Henry Landseer; with two additional plates and explanatory notes by Henry Robertson. 

Description of the book
Bemerkenswerter und seltener anatomischer Atlas, der zwar nicht zu den 'medizinischen' Anatomiebüchern zuzählen ist, jedoch ein reizvolles Beispiel für das Hineinwirken der Wissenschaft in die Bildende Kunst darstellt. Choulant widmet dem Werk daher auch eine längere Besprechung. Er bezeichnet Flaxmans Zeichnungen als "durchaus frei, geistreich und naturgetreu". - Die Radierungen Landseers sind auf subtilste Weise ausgeführt. Die myologischen Tafeln erinnern an feine Kreidezeichnungen, die osteologischen an Pinselzeichnungen, Offenbar nur in kleiner Auflage erschienen. - Leichte Gebrauchsspuren.

Remarkable and rare anatomical atlas, which, although not to the 'is count among medical' anatomy books, but a delightful example represents the encroachment of science into the visual arts. Choulant devoted to the work, therefore, a longer meeting. He describes Flaxman Drawings as "absolutely free, witty and true to nature".  The Etchings Landseer's are running on most subtle ways. The in his chalk drawings are of the muscles the brush drawings are of the bones, obviously appeared only in small editions.

A digital version is available at the New York Public Library.

Original copies of John Flaxman's Anatomical Studies for the use of Artists at

John Flaxman - 1755-1826 An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists

An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists

Link to related anatomies at the University of Toronto: Anatomia 1522-1867: Anatomical Plates from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Related books:

Anatomy for the Artist (How to Draw)Anatomy For The Artist The Dynamics Of The Human Form
Anatomy For The Artist The Dynamics Of The Human Form

The Language of Line: John Flaxman’s illustrations to the works of Homer and Aeschylus at the Royal Academy of the Arts.

Another page about Flaxman at

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