The Figure in Composition || Paul G Braun

There’s a charm and lightness to the illustrations in this book that makes it immediately attractive. The slightly retro look to the costumes also, perversely, gives it a sense of modernity. Finally, the looseness of the line gives the figures a sinuousness and a sense of movement, or the potential for it. The man relaxing with a cigarette in one hand and the other in a trouser pocket might push himself away from the wall and walk off at any moment.

So it comes as a surprise, a shock even, to discover that this is a reprint of something that first appeared in 1930. There’s really very little to give it away and the reproduction from what may very well have been a printed original (surely the printing plates can’t have survived?) has been sensitively handled.

The words are descriptive rather than tied to the illustrations – “you will see how the folds give the form and pose of the figure” – but, as in this example, you really do see, and the lack of detailed instructions doesn’t matter at all.

Honestly, this is one of the best books on figure drawing I’ve seen. It’s over eighty years old and fresh as a daisy. Have we really progressed so little? £8.99 is maybe a tad expensive for a 64-page octavo paperback, but it doesn’t need any further padding.

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