Hale was probably the foremost teacher of figure drawing and artistic anatomy in America. He was Curator of the American Painting and Sculpture Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Instructor of Drawing and Lecturer on Anatomy at The Art Students League in New York, and Lecturer on Anatomy at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
When I was a student at the Academy I had the privilege of attending Hale’s lectures on artistic anatomy. I was pretty young at the time and unaware of Hale’s status or reputation as a teacher. To me he was just “the anatomy lecture guy”. His lectures, however, left no doubt that you were getting the real goods from someone who knew his subject in extraordinary depth. I began to realize just how good he was when I started to pick up his books.
Hale was the author or co-author of some of the best books ever written on figure drawing and artistic anatomy: “Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined, Master Class in Figure Drawing, Artistic Anatomy (with Dr. Paul Richer), and “Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters” (with Terence Coyle).
All of them are excellent. Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters is my favorite book on artistic anatomy. Coyle took material from lectures by Hale, who really knew the work of the masters in addition to his knowledge of figure drawing and anatomy, included the corresponding images from Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Pontormo, Leonardo, Prud’hon and others, and arranged them on opposing pages to illustrate important principles of artistic anatomy.
Hale’s quotes are accompanied by a diagram that Coyle has annotated so you know exactly what part of the master drawing Hale is referring to (image at left, below Daniel E. Green’s portrait of Hale). Wow, what a great way to learn artistic anatomy.