(We're finishing a discussion of: The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing by Solomon Solomon, first published in 1911, new intro by James Gurney)
Even a century ago, Solomon regretted the disappearance of the workmanlike skills of the Renaissance masters. The problem, he said, stemmed from the overuse of opaque pigments, the fashion for impressionism, and the proliferation of art exhibitions. He also lamented the disservice of teachers who gave aesthetic advice alone without also sharing practical information.
Regrettably, few academic masters committed their knowledge to the printed word. Those who did, such as Harold Speed, Daniel Parkhurst, and John Collier, have bestowed to posterity valuable links in a chain leading back to a tradition of high accomplishment. With today’s resurgence of interest in academic realism, Solomon’s book has emerged as a valuable contribution to our understanding of French and British academic practices.
The value of Oil Painting and Drawing to today’s art student comes in part from Solomon’s ability to synthesize in practical terms the artistic currents swirling around him at the dawn of the twentieth century. He encouraged students to cultivate an open mind, and he expressed his appreciation for a wide range of older masters. “An old mansion can have many windows letting in the light,” he said. True enough. But as he shows us in this book, the mansion must first be built on a foundation of good craftsmanship.