Free-ebook: Artistic anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole

Front cover of the Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole
Front cover of the Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole


The Artistic Anatomy of Trees (their structure and treatment in painting) by english landscape painter RexVicat Cole (1870-1940) is one of those indispensable books that if you're a landscape painter of any kind you might consider looking at.

Even though this book was written in 1915 it really does enable you to look at trees (mainly northern hemisphere trees, though it does cover trees from all over the world) with a much greater understanding - biological and artistic- than anything produced these days.

I look at it regularly for his incredible analysis of the structure of trees which unless you're a bird it's quite difficult to see certain features (such as buds, branches and leaves) of a tree clearly. And most photography can't do it either. You can really see what you're looking at in this book.

book page from rex vicat coles book the artistic anatomy of a tree
All illustrations in the book are in black and white. Some of the paintings are a bit 'soft' but you can understand the discussion through them, which is the main thing in part 1.
His 105 personal pencil drawings along with 50 illustrations from early Italian artists onwards, plus 300 diagrams, show you close up the anatomy and details of trees along with their 'artistic' aspects. And you certainly don't have to agree with all his opinions about what constitutes a beautiful landscape painting to glean a lot from this book. 

Page from Chapter 3 on balance. From the Artistic Anatomy of Trees.
He says in the introduction:

"A landscape picture must be a decoration for a wall, its colours arranged on a harmonious scheme and applied with surfaces of pleasing quality, its pattern of light and dark a grand one. The individual parts must be interesting each in its place, and must help to build up the beauty of the whole. Above all the sentiment must be strongly stamped upon it." p24

Yes and no. It really depends on the meaning you're trying to convey in your painting. But his detailed discussion of trees in painters, such as Turner and Claude in Part 1 and what features of trees to look for when composing landscape paintings of your own is valuable for the beginner to advanced painter or drawer or photographer. 

The books divided into 3 sections
Part 1 Trees considered in relation to painting.
Part 2 The Anatomy of a Tree
Part 3 The Details of Trees

The arrangement of buds on the elm and the arrangement they give rise to. Illustration 77 from the book.
There are few other books written that have this kind of information with so many illustrations. Although I have found a couple of others from the 19th century but Rex Vicat's book has the greatest depth of knowledge.

It's not always possible to sit outside drawing for hours at a time for various reasons. If you're painting or drawing a tree and really want to understand its physical structure this book goes into intricate detail about all its important features from a practical artists perspective.

The Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole
Dover Publications 347 pages
All illustrations in black and white. 

You can download the book free in pdf format or for your kindle here. Or buy it. I bought it on Amazon for around $15A. Last time I looked on Amazon.com it was $12.  It's absolutely worth having a real book if you're a landscape painter or drawer at any stage. Or just someone who loves trees. 

Other free ebooks about drawing:

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