2 min read

Anatomy for the Artist

The first time I ever saw a reference book of anatomy for the artists it was at home. I must have been in my early teens, my mother normally kept the book out of reach and that was about the time when I was finally allowed to access the entire library in my parents' room - though I would always ask if they think I should read this or the other. They trusted me with their books, I trusted their judgement. They frequently left books they wanted me to read lying around in the kitchen or on in the toilet instead of telling me I should read them; they knew I could never resist.

The Anatomy for The Artist was precious to my mother. She was always interested in arts and was great at them - though she took it more as a hobby than a way to live - and once studied medicine as well. I guess owning this book was an unspoken longing for a different path of life... or maybe I'm reading too much into this. It was  hard-cover, cloth bound, with 142 heavy cream card paper full page plates - one of the first editions of Anatomy for The Artist by Jeno Barcsay.

They don't make them like this anymore. The recent editions are nearly 50% smaller (the one that my mum had was larger than A4, but smaller than A3... I estimate it was either B4 or C4 format), paperbacks and wire-bound. I want to have nothing to do with them. The people who own earlier editions rarely contemplate parting with them and I understand them well - if I owned a first or second edition copy I would keep it on a pedestal and never let it of my sight - but every now and then they come up on Amazon marketplace, but it's usually impossible to guess which edition it is and what condition it is in ("used" doesn't say much about books like these).

So instead of investing in this particular book I bought myself a lesser reference of same title by Sarah Simblet. Now, I don't say that the one I bought was rubbish, no, it's of a very good quality, has great drawings and pictures, some of them printed on vellum for comparison and as a reference serves me well, but it just simply doesn't compare with the masterpiece that Jeno Barcsay has created. It would be like comparing a contemporary artist to Michelangelo. Funnily enough, I paid for it just a little less than the second hand Jeno Barcsay's hard-cover copy.

I still dream of owning the original, preferably the first edition, of Jeno Barcsay's Anatomy for the Artist but since I don't have a pedestal or a place to put one it will probably remain a dream.

For now.