Artists study the figure to learn how to represent it. They draw from life to learn the anatomy or to provide a basis for finished paintings or sculpture.
Since the invention of photography artists have also used photographs to provide visual information, to study movement and to inspire their art.
Michaelangelo used many life drawings to prepare for the monumental task of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This is one of the few surviving sketches from the project. He used this sketch of a man as the basis for the female Libyan Sibyl.
In the 1880's Edgar Degas experimented with the new photographic medium to make reference materials for his drawings, paintings and sculpture. The pastel on the right shows the influence of the forshortening, unusual camera angles and spontaneity of the camera.
Degas : The Man and His Art (Discoveries) Degas' Drawings (Paperback) Carefully reproduced from a rare 1923 limited edition, most of these magnificent drawings are unavailable elsewhere in published form. Dancers, nudes, portraits, travel scenes, and more. 100 drawings, including 8 in full color.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Nu dans l'atelier (1898)
Henri Matisse. Male Model. 1900. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA
Olga's Gallery - Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Matisse / Nude at the Mirror (1937)
Here's a popular book on drawing the figure The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing by Anthony Ryder.
The Art Student's Guide To The Proportions Of The Human Form
The Art Student's Guide to the Bones and Muscles of the Human Body: and Lessons on Foreshortening
Gerard Audran's The Proportions of the Human Body
The School of Raphael: The Student's Guide to Expression in Historical Painting
The Art Student's Guide to External Anatomy
The Human Head: A Correct Delineation of the Anatomy, Expressions, Features, Proportions and Positions of the Head and Face
How To Draw The Human Figure: The Drawings Of Grace Young
How to Draw People: Using Early Copy Books
Victorian Sketches: A Victorian Sketchbook by an Unknown Artist
Life Drawing - Croquis de Pierre Lissac
Figure Drawings in Color
How Harry Cook Learned to Draw
Traite de Perspective
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