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Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures   By: (1859-1940)

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Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures by Henry Rankin Poore is a comprehensive guide that delves into the art of composition and provides invaluable insights into the process of critiquing and analyzing visual artworks. Aimed at artists, students, and aficionados alike, this book offers a wealth of knowledge and practical advice that can greatly enhance one's understanding and mastery of composition.

What sets Poore's book apart is its holistic approach to pictorial composition. Rather than simply providing a set of rules or formulas, the author encourages readers to develop a discerning eye and to understand the principles that govern successful composition. Through detailed explanations and numerous examples, Poore explains how elements such as line, shape, color, and value can be effectively organized to create visually pleasing and engaging compositions.

One of the strongest aspects of this book is its emphasis on critical judgment. Poore encourages readers to not only appreciate art but also analyze and evaluate it objectively. By outlining the key factors to consider when critiquing a picture, including unity, harmony, balance, and rhythm, he empowers readers to develop their own critical thinking skills and to engage with art on a deeper level.

The book's language is accessible and concise, making it easy for both beginners and more experienced artists to follow along. Poore's explanations are clear, and he often supports his teachings with visual examples, which further enhance understanding. The inclusion of numerous illustrations, paintings, and diagrams throughout the book greatly aids in comprehending the concepts being discussed.

Moreover, Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures goes beyond providing theoretical knowledge; it also offers practical exercises and challenges that encourage readers to enact what they have learned. These exercises not only help solidify the concepts taught but also allow readers to experiment and grow as artists.

If there is one minor drawback to this book, it is its relatively narrow focus on traditional pictorial composition. While the principles discussed can undoubtedly be applied to various art forms, such as photography and graphic design, the examples and context are primarily rooted in traditional painting. Nevertheless, the fundamental concepts covered are universally applicable and can still be immensely beneficial to artists in any medium.

Overall, Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures is an exceptional resource for anyone interested in the art of composition and analyzing visual artworks. Poore's expertise, combined with a lucid writing style, effectively communicates complex ideas without overwhelming the reader. Whether you are a seasoned artist looking to refine your skills or a beginner seeking a solid foundation, this book is an invaluable asset that will undoubtedly enhance your understanding and appreciation of the art of composition.

First Page:

[Light and Shade Geo. Inness]

Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures

A Handbook for Students and Lovers of Art By H. R. Poore

New York and London G. P. Putnam's Sons


It is with sincere pleasure that I dedicate this book to my first teacher, Peter Moran, as an acknowledgment to the interest he inspired in this important subject


This book has been prepared because, although the student has been abundantly supplied with aids to decorative art, there is little within his reach concerning pictorial composition.

I have added thereto hints on the critical judgment of pictures with the hope of simplifying to the many the means of knowing pictures, prompted by the recollection of the topsyturviness of this question as it confronted my own mind a score of years ago. I was then apt to strain at a Corot hoping to discover in the employment of some unusual color or method the secret of its worth, and to think of the old masters as a different order of beings from the rest of mankind.

Let me trust that, to a degree at least, these pages may prove iconoclastic, shattering the images created of superstitious reverence and allowing, in their stead, the result in art from whatever source to be substituted as something quite as worthy of this same homage... Continue reading book >>

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