Anatomy lessons are necessary for a realistic artist, but all artists cheat. Now that the documentary Tim's Vermeer is streaming, you can see one example. In this pair of 19th Century drawings, an enterprising young artist has come upon a brilliant shortcut. Anatomy lessons traced for the outline of his figures on the other side of the paper.
One thing art scholars (and I suspect, the curators at the Met) don't really like to discuss is how the images of our great masters appeared on the canvas. Maybe we should only look at the surface. Who wants to wander through a "projection" wing, a "tracing" wing and a "painted over a shallow emulsion of a photograph" wing. All common.
This kid just figured it out sooner than most.
Pair of untitled portraits (Soldier and Indian) traced from anatomy lessons. Circa 1880? Collection Jim Linderman
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