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Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined

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A book whose sales have not diminished but rather increased dramatically since its publication 45 years ago, this bestselling classic is the ultimate manual of drawing taught by the late Robert Beverly Hale, who’s famed lectures and classes at New York City’s Art Student League captivated artists and art educators from around the world. Faithfully producing and methodically A book whose sales have not diminished but rather increased dramatically since its publication 45 years ago, this bestselling classic is the ultimate manual of drawing taught by the late Robert Beverly Hale, who’s famed lectures and classes at New York City’s Art Student League captivated artists and art educators from around the world. Faithfully producing and methodically analyzing 100 master drawings—including works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rodin, Goya, and Rembrandt among others—Hale shows how these artists tackled basic problems such as line, light and planes, mass, position and thrust, and anatomy. With detailed analytical captions and diagrams, every lesson is clearly delineated and illustrated. Throughout, also, is commentary that sheds light on the creative process of drawing and offers deep insight into the unsurpassed achievements of the masters.


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A book whose sales have not diminished but rather increased dramatically since its publication 45 years ago, this bestselling classic is the ultimate manual of drawing taught by the late Robert Beverly Hale, who’s famed lectures and classes at New York City’s Art Student League captivated artists and art educators from around the world. Faithfully producing and methodically A book whose sales have not diminished but rather increased dramatically since its publication 45 years ago, this bestselling classic is the ultimate manual of drawing taught by the late Robert Beverly Hale, who’s famed lectures and classes at New York City’s Art Student League captivated artists and art educators from around the world. Faithfully producing and methodically analyzing 100 master drawings—including works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rodin, Goya, and Rembrandt among others—Hale shows how these artists tackled basic problems such as line, light and planes, mass, position and thrust, and anatomy. With detailed analytical captions and diagrams, every lesson is clearly delineated and illustrated. Throughout, also, is commentary that sheds light on the creative process of drawing and offers deep insight into the unsurpassed achievements of the masters.

30 review for Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I've always been very interested in art, especially drawing, but never had a chance to take a class in the subject after grade school. My interest was piqued again after my participation in #inktober this year, so a few weeks back, I dusted off this old book. I actually bought this book years back, about a decade ago or so. It was interesting to see how much easier the text is to understand now that I've completed the training to become a musculoskeletal radiologist than it was when I first attem I've always been very interested in art, especially drawing, but never had a chance to take a class in the subject after grade school. My interest was piqued again after my participation in #inktober this year, so a few weeks back, I dusted off this old book. I actually bought this book years back, about a decade ago or so. It was interesting to see how much easier the text is to understand now that I've completed the training to become a musculoskeletal radiologist than it was when I first attempted to read it ten years ago, back when my understanding of human musculoskeletal anatomy was relatively poor. I see that some earlier Goodreads reviewers have commented on how their enjoyment of this book's drawings was compromised by their dislike for the text, and I think this has to do with the cheeky tone Hale takes, the sort of airy high-handed way he sprinkles anatomy jargon everywhere without adequately explaining it so that readers will marvel at what a hard job he has as an artist and how much study must have been required to achieve his level of expertise. I can see how this tone and approach could be off-putting to some. Still, now that I happen to have some understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy under my belt, I found myself able to follow along and even enjoy it. Your mileage may vary. "You may wonder whether artists have X-ray eyes; I assure you that is just what all good artists have." To be fair, this book doesn't pretend to teach beginning artists everything they need to know about drawing: in fact, Hale repeatedly and explicitly directs beginners to seek out other resources to round out their knowledge of anatomy, perspective, etc. But he does cover some fundamentals (highlights, shade, planes) at a basic level, driving them home with a healthy amount of repetition and examples. And the choice of examples is impeccable: if you want to learn from the best -- Michelangelo, Leonardo, Durer, Rembrandt -- you can do so here. This is a book to which I can see myself returning time and time again. I underlined a few passages that I thought had surprising applicability, albeit unintentionally, to the world of creative writing and poetry: "Beginners always feel that all details are created equal and that it is thoroughly undemocratic to put details in their proper place. But this liberal belief leads to disaster. Of course a drawing must have details. But the student must realize that their impact must be subordinated or intensified at times. And sometimes they are selected, invented, or even eliminated altogether. These procedures require the deepest resources of the artist." And: "It is curious that we all cannot draw hands well -- after all, our own hands are constantly in view. This simply proves the point again: we cannot draw anything well unless we have thought about it a great deal. Very often, when I am lecturing on hands, I notice the students carefully examining their own hands as if they were seeing them for the first time. Actually, I suppose the forms we draw are just thoughts with lines around them." And: "This drawing was done very quickly. Students always feel that they can make a good drawing if they have enough time. But these marvelously rapid sketches of Rembrandt may teach you that it is not time that makes a good drawing, but understanding."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Parka

    (More pictures at parkablogs.com) Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters is an art book that teaches by looking at the art fundamentals used by great art masters themselves — Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rodin, Goya, Rembrandt, among others. There are 100 master drawings analysed by Robert Beverly Hale on the fundamentals such as line, light and planes, mass, position and thrust, and anatomy. These are all figure drawings. Each illustration is printed full on one page with a certain sectio (More pictures at parkablogs.com) Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters is an art book that teaches by looking at the art fundamentals used by great art masters themselves — Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rodin, Goya, Rembrandt, among others. There are 100 master drawings analysed by Robert Beverly Hale on the fundamentals such as line, light and planes, mass, position and thrust, and anatomy. These are all figure drawings. Each illustration is printed full on one page with a certain section selected for analyzing on the next. The commentary is simple and concise, providing great insight to what these artists were thinking. Many of these pieces are really sketches but when you realised the thought put behind every stroke and what the artist was trying to show, you'll instantly be enlightened. At the end of this book, even if you can't draw yet, you'll be able to identify the difference between a good and bad drawing. And when you draw, you'll remember the principles. This is a really useful and inspirational reference book, great for beginner to advanced artists. Robert Beverly Hale has also authored Anatomy Lessons From The Great Masters, which uses the same teaching style here but focusing on anatomy drawings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bastgr

    Please buy some bones. (c) Robert Hale Or at least rob some graves. (c) Leonardo da Vinci

  4. 4 out of 5

    Martha Smith

    As a student of art and art history, I was disappointed in how few photographs and drawings the book contained. There were a few illustrations. The title of the book was misleading. I would have like to have seen multiple drawings in color by the masters. As a student it helps to see examples of art principles clearly demonstrated. I feel this book missed the mark. I have read numerous books that did a better job of illustrating the principals in art. Therefore, this book was not that helpful to As a student of art and art history, I was disappointed in how few photographs and drawings the book contained. There were a few illustrations. The title of the book was misleading. I would have like to have seen multiple drawings in color by the masters. As a student it helps to see examples of art principles clearly demonstrated. I feel this book missed the mark. I have read numerous books that did a better job of illustrating the principals in art. Therefore, this book was not that helpful to me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol Tensen

    Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters has remained in print since the 1960s. Robert Gale came up with an ambitious goal for an art instruction book, using drawing from the old masters to illustrate various lessons about drawing. The book is divided into topics, such as line, mass, anatomy, and after each explanation he shows several examples. And what fine examples they are. I was particularly pleased to see so many drawings by Andrea Del Sarto. Gale's concept and organization are far better th Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters has remained in print since the 1960s. Robert Gale came up with an ambitious goal for an art instruction book, using drawing from the old masters to illustrate various lessons about drawing. The book is divided into topics, such as line, mass, anatomy, and after each explanation he shows several examples. And what fine examples they are. I was particularly pleased to see so many drawings by Andrea Del Sarto. Gale's concept and organization are far better than his actual writing. I found the anatomy section problematic. He uses terms that aren't well explained - or explained at all. I have a pretty good knowledge of bone structure and basic musculature, but I had to resort to google several times. I wondered how a beginner would navigate this section. In spite of this, I found the book useful and would recommend checking it out of the library and doing some of the exercises. (In the same vein, I recommend The Master Draughtsman Series, which is out of print, but one can still find them on eBay or Amazon. The volumes cover a vast array of artists going from the Rennaisance to the mid-20th century. I especially liked the volumes on Watteau, Ingres, Raphael, and The Hand in Art)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Woodward

    This was a very helpful guide on drawing and I learned much about how to approach my own drawing studies. It includes drawings in various stages of finish from a wide variety of Greats such as da Vinci, Durer, Titian, Rembrandt, Degas, and many more. Full page illustrations were each followed with an analysis by Robert Beverly Hale complete with a smaller version of the artwork, labeled for easy reference. The forward is by Jacob Collins, one of the leading realist artists working today. He foun This was a very helpful guide on drawing and I learned much about how to approach my own drawing studies. It includes drawings in various stages of finish from a wide variety of Greats such as da Vinci, Durer, Titian, Rembrandt, Degas, and many more. Full page illustrations were each followed with an analysis by Robert Beverly Hale complete with a smaller version of the artwork, labeled for easy reference. The forward is by Jacob Collins, one of the leading realist artists working today. He founded the Water Street Atelier and Grand Central Academy of Art in New York, where I hope to take some summer workshops at some point. This book is definitely one to keep.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna C

    This is a thorough guide to figure drawing. I found the actual information on anatomy far too technical for the average student, but the book does do a great job getting you to really see light, shadow, and planes. You do, however, also get the impression that Hale was a terrifying teacher: incredibly demanding and arrogant. I can't even count the number of times he says you'll never become a competent draftsman unless you acquire a literal skeleton of human bones, or that you basically need to This is a thorough guide to figure drawing. I found the actual information on anatomy far too technical for the average student, but the book does do a great job getting you to really see light, shadow, and planes. You do, however, also get the impression that Hale was a terrifying teacher: incredibly demanding and arrogant. I can't even count the number of times he says you'll never become a competent draftsman unless you acquire a literal skeleton of human bones, or that you basically need to have a knowledge of anatomy rivaling that of the average MD. It's a good thing Hale has been safely dead for decades, and I can study this book in peace.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    One of my all-time favorite art instruction books. It answers so many questions that I developed while drawing and painting. For example, which artist uses which type of head construction: sphere, box, cylinder, other? I never found another book that acknowledges the choice, let alone shows me how to analyze the drawings of my choice. This book has a very good treatment of lines and planes in particular. I also love the little gems like page 31 where the author caught da Vinci practicing his shad One of my all-time favorite art instruction books. It answers so many questions that I developed while drawing and painting. For example, which artist uses which type of head construction: sphere, box, cylinder, other? I never found another book that acknowledges the choice, let alone shows me how to analyze the drawings of my choice. This book has a very good treatment of lines and planes in particular. I also love the little gems like page 31 where the author caught da Vinci practicing his shading! I'm calling it read, but I come back to this book whenever I have a question, so I'll never truly be done. Solidly worth five stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Genesis.P.Gates

    This book is a little bit advanced. It guides readers to analyze and appreciated masterpieces from artist and lessons reader why the drawings are good and how to learn. It introduces concepts such as line, light and planes, mass, position, and directions. All these are extremely useful as a systematic way to understand drawings.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Carithers

    Excellent ideas and progression of skills and concepts, as well as compelling, canonical drawings, though the author's analysis and detailed examination of each drawing, which often fell on the left page, remained tedious throughout. Excellent ideas and progression of skills and concepts, as well as compelling, canonical drawings, though the author's analysis and detailed examination of each drawing, which often fell on the left page, remained tedious throughout.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vixtrolla

    A bunch of excellent life drawing tips to keep in mind. Excellent examples.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Long

    This book contains interesting concepts pointing into the nuances of observation. I can see it changing the way I practice drawing. It is a valuable tool.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dreams

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. it was amazing and very helpful

  14. 5 out of 5

    Filomena

    Although I am a beginner in drawing nude, I enjoyed this book very much and learnt from it. It does not show how to study, practice drawing. It analyzes drawings by great masters: how they shown proportion, head movement, volume, shadow, movement of a body, grace etc etc. Each page has one drawing, first page describes the drawing - where and what to look for in it, second page shows the drawing being analyzed. Big issue that I have with this book is, some of the small drawings on the first page s Although I am a beginner in drawing nude, I enjoyed this book very much and learnt from it. It does not show how to study, practice drawing. It analyzes drawings by great masters: how they shown proportion, head movement, volume, shadow, movement of a body, grace etc etc. Each page has one drawing, first page describes the drawing - where and what to look for in it, second page shows the drawing being analyzed. Big issue that I have with this book is, some of the small drawings on the first page showing numbers where to look in a drawing on a second page, are far too small to be able to see numbers on it. These numbers refer to the text below and what part of a drawing is being discussed. Some number are not readable or easy to find. If these drawings marked for analysis were larger, I would have given this book 4 stars. PS I have a good vision.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin de Ataíde

    A very basic primer in drawing based on classical techniques and the work of the great masters, usually the post-Renaissance Italian masters. The material is very basic, going through the primaries of line, form, shade and structures, but the real gold is the simplified analysis of master drawings. An interesting book and worth a look through. Four stars, not five.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie Elwood

    Initially, this seemed like a basic "how to" drawing book, using solely lines, but Hale continued to develop the nuances of drawing through examination of drawings by masters. Eventually, he looks at all of the facets of a drawing and details what you can learn from the problems that the great artists resolved. A fascinating book. Initially, this seemed like a basic "how to" drawing book, using solely lines, but Hale continued to develop the nuances of drawing through examination of drawings by masters. Eventually, he looks at all of the facets of a drawing and details what you can learn from the problems that the great artists resolved. A fascinating book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I enjoyed this unusual book and used it as the starting point for a course I taught in improving drawing by studying the masters. I like that the language and some of the ideas are a bit outdated as it underscores the evolution of ideas about art and technique. Overall it is interesting, insightful and a good book for any artist to study.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    It has a good basic over view of everything ones needs to know for the basics of drawing. But I dont think it breaks the steps down well enough or analyze each area but it also does give good examples of artwork.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I love this book. Mine copy is worn and loved. Even if you have been doing art for quite some time, there is so much to learn by studying the works in this book. I think ever visual artist should keep a copy and experiment with it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I am still going through this book, but I absolutely love the in-depth analysis and tips and advice for the artists. Ever since I got a glimpse of Robert Beverly Hale's lectures, I knew he was a gold mind of information. A pity that he passed away. I am still going through this book, but I absolutely love the in-depth analysis and tips and advice for the artists. Ever since I got a glimpse of Robert Beverly Hale's lectures, I knew he was a gold mind of information. A pity that he passed away.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    The author shows how the great artists created the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface with their drawings. This is a great book for not only art students but those who want to appreciate art more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Wow, a master class in the fundamentals and application of drawing with examples from the World's great masters. Learning to Draw, Line, Light and Planes, Mass, Position Thrust or Direction, Artistic Anatomy, and Driving all the Horses at Once. Wow, a master class in the fundamentals and application of drawing with examples from the World's great masters. Learning to Draw, Line, Light and Planes, Mass, Position Thrust or Direction, Artistic Anatomy, and Driving all the Horses at Once.

  23. 5 out of 5

    RLance Garcia

    One of my favorite books of all time. Brilliant.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Apryl Anderson

    I'm not keen on the text, but the reproductions are excellent. I'm not keen on the text, but the reproductions are excellent.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jedkimball

    Great introduction to figure drawing concepts

  26. 4 out of 5

    Makingamark

    One of the standard "must have" books for people wanting to understand more about classical drawing and what the drawings of the great artists looked like One of the standard "must have" books for people wanting to understand more about classical drawing and what the drawings of the great artists looked like

  27. 5 out of 5

    HELLO

    must read for artists and aspiring artists alike. contained within is a lifetime's worth of artistic wisdom and 100 plates to copy and practice from must read for artists and aspiring artists alike. contained within is a lifetime's worth of artistic wisdom and 100 plates to copy and practice from

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mentler

    Classic... Read it a least 6 times! Reading it again now... New meaning with each reading

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Thorough insights, I need to return to chapter 6 when ready.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Luc

    If you're going to explore all the possibilities, I recommend that you learn from the best. If you're going to explore all the possibilities, I recommend that you learn from the best.

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