Sunday, November 9, 2008

Charles Bell - Essays On the Anatomy Of Expression In Painting

In 1806 Charles Bell published Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting which is available as a 1984 reprint from the The Classics of medicine library.

He was a Scottish surgeon - anatomist who used his extensive knowledge to produce several influential books.

From History and Bibliography of Anatomical Illustration, by Ludwig Choulant, The University of Chicago, 1920:"Sir Charles Bell, the author of an original and notable work on the anatomy of expression in painting, was born at Edinburgh in November, 1774, the exact date of his birth being unknown. He died at Hallow Park, April 29, 1842. Early in life he gave evidence of ability as a practical dissector, anatomist, and surgeon, making his own beautiful drawings in his own inimitable way. His various essays on the nerves of the face, and his illustrations of these nerves under disease, are of the highest importance and deepest interest, and the greatness of the work can only be realized when compared with what was known, or rather not known, in his day of the physiology of the nervous system. His various systems of anatomy, dissections, and surgery, still stand unrivaled for facility of expression, elegance of style, and accuracy of
description. The plates are all from drawings made by the author. The Library of the Surgeon General's Office, Washington, D.C., is in possession of a volume of his original water-color sketches. His first publication was entitled:
Essays on the anatomy of expression in painting, London, 1806, 4°, with illustrations. In this work he points the importance of a knowledge of anatomy to the artist and displays the error into which artists may be betrayed by an exclusive attention to the antique. He treats of the skull and form of the head, of the muscles of the face in man and in animals, depicts the several passions by a comparison of these, marks what is peculiar to man, embodies the idea of a living principle in the expression of emotion, and finally treats of the economy of the living body as it relates to expression and character in painting. The illustrations show some of the finest specimens of his pencil. A second edition, with additions, was published in 1824, 4°. The title was changed in the third and
succeeding editions to:
The anatomy and philosophy of expression as connected with the fine arts, London, 1844 . "

This image from the American Philosphical Society's page on Charles Darwin.

Here is a link to a University of Illinois at Chicago page on him.

Another link this time to the Bernard Becker Medical Library Collections at the Washington University School of Medicine.

And a link to an entry at the Nature Network.

Link to a page about Darwin and Facial Expression, The Mermaid's Tale.

Another post about Darwin, Evolutionary Psychology.

And a study of perception of facial expression, Mood Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.

Wikipedia entry.

You can find copies of both the 1806 original and the 1984 republication at Use the search terms "Charles Bell, Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting ."
For ebooks that include ideas about drawing expression, please see:

The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression

Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists

Read the book online.

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