You may have noticed a couple of new displays in GSA Library over the last few weeks. While one of these displays, the one on Level 2, is devoted to Talwin Morris and bookbinding, GSA Archives and Collections and Library staff have dedicated the other to anatomy.
Anatomy drawing has historically formed an important part of art education. Up until 1900, Glasgow School of Art followed the National Course of Instruction, or the South Kensington system. Of the 23 stages that the system prescribed, Stage 9, “Anatomical studies”, included drawing from the human figure, animal forms and from nature.
Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections holds a selection of material related to the history of anatomy drawing at the School, including prospectuses which outline the place of anatomy drawing in the School’s curriculum; photographs of students drawing in the School’s Anatomy Room; anatomy drawings by former students of the School; lantern slides of anatomical subjects; and some correspondence related to the teaching of anatomy drawing, such as a letter from the Director to Professor Bryce, Regius Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow University, requesting permission for GSA anatomy students to work at the University.
GSA Library holds a number of rare anatomical treatises in its Special Collections, which have served as inspiration to renowned artists such as Christine Borland and more recently Kate Davis for her exhibition Not Just the Perfect Moment in 2012. The Library is also lucky to hold a number of original 1887 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal photographic study Animal Locomotion. In total the library holds a representative selection of 63 plates from Muybridge’s total set of 781, which were purchased for the use of GSA students in June 1917.