The craft of old master drawings by James Watrous
The craft of old master drawings by James Watrous

The craft of old master drawings by James Watrous

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Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1957. Hardcover. 170 pages ; illustrated ; 24 cm. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!


A comprehensive study of the techniques of drawing, this is both a historical work, covering the period from the late Middle Ages to the present, and a useful manual for contemporary artists. It presents the old masters' techniques by means of a thorough study of the historical and written evidence of the tools and materials used. The author also includes a series of workshop procedures he has developed with which the contemporary artist may produce the equivalents of the techniques of earlier draughtsmen. This book comprises a body of knowledge which is essential to students of art history, curators, collectors, and artists, and is a significant addition to the literature on drawing.

In addition to his scholarly investigation of earlier practices, the author identifies materials and processes used by such important artists as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Romney, Picasso, Michelangelo, Watteau, Holbein, Tiepolo, and Delacroix. For the artist interested in reproducing the effects achieved by these and many other acknowledged masters, there are full discussions and specific directions concerning the making of inks, styluses, reed and quill pens, fabricated chalks, and instructions for preparing grounds for metal point drawings. At every step, the discussion is supplemented with illustrations from laboratory experiments and from drawings by both old and contemporary artists. Of the more than sixty illustrations included?

thirty-six are reproductions of master works, and among the others there are microphotographic enlargements of detail showing the differences in density and texture produced by various tools on different papers or grounds. Thus, as a collection of master drawings, the book is worthy of the art lover's library; as a technical study, it is an indispensable aid to the art student and practicing artist.

James Watrous, a professor of art history at the University Wisconsin, is both a scholar and a creative artist—a rare combination of qualities, but the one necessary to the task of writing this book. For years with his students he has conducted laboratory experiments, testing old recipes, tools, and materials, in the study of the techniques of master artists. His work has brought him research awards from the University of Wisconsin and from the Ford Foundation. Mr. Watrous is also an artist, with an artist's appreciation for the importance of the physical components of a work of art, and the subtle differences of effect which can be produced through skillful handling of materials. He has become known for his murals and mosaic murals in federal, state, and private buildings, and several of his paintings are in public collections and art institutions. He has been awarded the William Monroe White Award for painting, the Milwaukee Art Institute Award for graphic arts, and the Wisconsin Salon Award for watercolor painting.

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