Study of a Male Nude Shouldering a Wooden Block
I have to admit that my motivation for including this drawing is personal. A staple of my own Atelier instruction was a steady diet of graphite figure drawings, very similar to this. The poses would be a total of 6 to 9 hours (over two to three sessions of three hours) I had always suspected the format of a relatively small (around 12 inches tall, max) figure study, with graphite, was a 20th-century invention and only came about with contemporary pencils and papers. So seeing an example of this same type of graphite figure drawing with a date going all the way back to 1832, was quite amazing to me.
In terms of the small graphite figure study format, this is an excellent example. The entire figure is described and all the elements of the figure, the hands, feet, head, and block are all drawn. There is a deft handling of the material so as to state nuance of form throughout the figure with a consistent level of finish. One particular area mastery that I find striking is the figure's left arm. The upper arm, deltoid, and trapezius are all coherently described. They transition into the back, which is in shadow, but just a single spark of light on the scapula remains. This artist knew what he was doing.
As someone who has worked with figure drawing models for years, I know that this pose with the block and straightened leg is no easy pose to hold or get a model to hold for long periods of time. So let's take a moment to appreciate the anonymous model who had to hold this pose for many hours in 1832.
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