The journal of design and manufactures
[Original papers:] Drawing schools and mechanics' institutions., pp. 167-170
108 Original Papers: Drawing Schools and Mechanics' Insttiaons. "The establishment of Schools of Design has not caused the drawing classes of Mechanics' Institutions to be deserted; first, because Schools of Design are as few compared with the number of Mechanics' Institu- tions; secondly, because the fees to the former, moderate as they are, usually exceed those of provincial Mechanics' Institutions, in which juniors rarely pay more than five shillings a-year, and if there is any additional fee to the drawing class, it very seldom exceeds one shilling a quarter; and, thirdly, that on the surface the School of Design does not appear to the young aspirant, unless having pattern-drawing directly in view, to be the estab- lishment for the satisfaction of his wishes. It will generally be found that where there is a drawing class in a Mechanics' Institution, it is rather a favourite resort of the young members ; and I am convinced that if some good plan could be devised for conducting pupils through the rudimentary discipline of the hand and eye in Mechanics' Institutions, they might be made most valuable instruments in the art-training of the people. "In the London Mechanics' Institution, so much, and in many cases so unjustly decried, the art, and the science too, of drawing have been cultivated with much diligence and profit to the pupils for upwards of twenty years. To begin at that which should form the basis of all designing and composition, linear or geometric drawing and perspective, I believe there has rarely been a period in the career of that institution during which there have been less than from forty to fifty young men studying practical geometry, taught in a sort of lecture lesson from the black board, every diagram being copied by the pupils, step by step, from the master's production. In many instances the teacher of this class has been previously its most attentive pupil ; its course has included the mode of constructing all the ordinary geometrical figures based on the division and combinations of the circle, and the modes of generating the conic curves, various practical applications to mouldings being pointed out by the way. The outlines of perspective have also been usually comprised in the course "Most of the pupils of this class being joiners, plasterers, house-painters, smiths, engineers, carvers, &c., they usually continued their studies in the architectural and mechanical drawing class: here the teacher having ascer- tained the occupation or wants of the several pupils, placed in their hands drawings to copy consisting of plans of buildings, elevations, staircases, &c., details of architectural ornament, or portions of machinery if that were the branch of the art desiderated. The pupil worked both at the class and at home, but did little more than imitate the copy, and only elicited any prin- ciples by catechising the teacher; however, as a good portion of these pupils were in earnest about their work and had generally gone through the geo- metrical course, besides eagerly reading Peter Nicholson's works and others of a like description, many most respectable architectural draughtsmen acquired the elements of their art in this class; and if inquiry were made among the large builders in London, it would be found that very many of their clerks of works and cleverest foremen had been pupils of the London Mechanics' Institution's drawing classes. So much for the exact or line-and-rule branch of the graphic art as taught in these classes. "Great facilities have also been offered for the study of figure drawing, and a fine series of dissections of the muscles of the human body, drawn by Lance, and presented to the Institution by the late Mr. Haydon, have been turned to good account; indeed, the class for the study of the figure has for many years been one of high standing in this Institution, and has included drawing from casts as well as from fiat copies. Recently a more ambitious effort has been made in the formation of a class for studying from the living model. "There has also been for sixteen or seventeen years a landscape-drawing class, which has usually been very popular. Modelling, the teachig of which was commenced in the infancy of the Society by Maurice Garvey, has, with occasional intermission, been taught to the present time, and I have seen many specimens of much delicacy of execution produced by the pupils of this class.
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