Arthur Thomson, Handbook of anatomy for art students, 1896

Cover front, spine and back

Cover front, spine and back


The Handbook of anatomy for art students is divided into 14 chapters with numerous illustrations and 43 photographs of the human form. This is an early example of nude photography used in a book. The photographic reproductions of male and female nude models are well-printed by Horace Hart (printer to the university of Oxford), especially considering they were perceived as illustrations to the text, rather than art works in themselves.
The author and photographer is Arthur Thomson, M.A., M.B. Professor of human anatomy in the University of Oxford and lecturer on anatomy in the national art training school, South Kensington. He worked at the Oxford University from 1885 until 1933.

From the preface:

“In order to carry out such an idea it was necessary that the descriptions given should be supplemented by frequent reference to the model or by copious illustration. In the present work photography has been employed for this purpose. I am well aware of the drawbacks of such a method, yet it seems to me that these are counterbalanced by the truth of the resulting figures. The plates lay no claim to artistic excellence; their value depends on their fidelity to nature. Artists, I feel sure, will sympathize with me in regard to the defects of some of the forms represented, knowing as they do how difficult it is to obtain universal excellence in a model. Apart from the professional models employed, I am largely indebted to some of the better known athletes of this University for the facilities which have enabled me to take the photographs. For obvious reasons it is unnecessary for me to name these gentlemen, but I wish none the less to express my indebtedness to them.”

Arthur Thomson, 10th August 1896.

Published at the Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1896. A second edition was published 1899. Reprinted many times over.

Hard cover

App. 14.8 x 22.6cm

415 pages plus 8 pages describing other available works