Frederick Lord Leighton (1830-1896) undertook such an experiment during a vacation to Capri in 1859. He worked from dawn to dusk on this 21x15 inch drawing for over a week. He once said that drawing a flower or tree was as difficult as drawing a head if you approached it with the same conscientiousness.
When he finished the drawing, he presented it to the influential critic John Ruskin to hang in the Oxford Museum, in the hopes that it would “impede, if possible, the increasing wrong-headedness in study—the careless conceit, the irreverent dash, the incompetent confidence of many modern students.”
Leighton’s Lemon Tree is a monument of careful draftsmanship that rivals Durer or DaVinci. Ruskin marveled at what the pencil is capable of: “The structural quality is finely wrought out, everything is followed out to its termination, every leaf is suggested and yet kept in perspective.”
The drawing was on exhibit last fall in Bristol’s City Museum & Art Gallery.
Leighton’s letter to Ruskin, link.
Ruskins response, link.
Leighton at ARC, link.
Bristol Museum show, link.
Tomorrow: Hair: Ribbons and String Mops