Drawing from the antique

DEFINITION

Making a copy with charcoal, chalk or pen and ink of classical sculpture, it is precise and accurate and from either the original or a white plaster copy. Making skillful, exact copies has traditionally been required for entry into life-drawing classes, especially in the traditional art classrooms in America in the late 18th and 19th-century. In the 1870s, Cecilia Beaux, then a teen-age art student, was required to "draw from the antique", something she found tedious and boring but eventually credited as critical to her professional development. She wrote: "I had been taught by this exercise, if I chose to apply it, every rule of linear and aerial perspective." (Carter 37). Sources: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; Alice Carter, "Cecilia Beaux".

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