Charles Bargue contribution to the art world is remembered for his "Cours de dessin"; it is perhaps the most influential classical drawing courses. His work was published between 1866 and 1871 by Goupil& Cie. Containing 197 individual sheets, guiding students from classical plaster casts, to the study of great master drawings and finally directing them to draw from the live model.
Many artists followed this course, even those who developed a different artistic way started with this foundation. Even Vincent van Gogh, who copied the complete set in 1880/1881, and (at least a part of it) again in 1890 began his study's based on Bargue.
The Bargue Drawing Course is a collection which will interest artists, art students, art historians, and lovers and collectors of drawings. It is providing masterful lithographs of subjects for copying by drawing students before they attempt drawing from life or nature.The Drawing Course is divided into three sections. The first consists of plates drawn after classical antique casts. Parts of the body are studied one by one in order of difficulty and are completed with full figures. The second section is dedicated to the great school of painting with drawings by Renaissance and modern masters. The third part is adding drawings after nude male models to complete the course. These drawings are original inventions by Bargue.
Slowly and step by step the student is introduced continually to more complex figures in the close observing and recording of nature. Even from the professional point of view the solutions by Bargue are still delightful and elegant, they are still the best finger exercise before attempting great work. For those who are in search of an entrance to the artistic world like art students or historians a practical and progressive introduction to realistic of late 19th century figure drawing is revealed. This is probably the genius of this work that reliance upon tradition by the use of antique sculptures as models. It is not to impose a classical style, but as an aid in seeing the structure of the human body with method. Here is perhaps the receipt in a convergence of Classicism and Realism. Strange is the missing of numerical proportional charts, perspective boxes or geometrical schemata to memorize in this course. All the techniques and schemata are developed out of nature and for the object in front of the artist. This is the secret of the intuitive of this studying approach, draw what you see and get instant results, without abstract theory.
The lithographs in them self are beautiful, the success of close attention and careful observation, a great attempt to arrange the beauty of natural figures and light in the various appearances of the human body. This is what is influences, touches and move us during the careful study of this work.
The transformation of Bargue live from a lithographer of drawings for a popular market in comic, sentimental and soft-porn subjects into a spectacular painter of single figures and intimate scenes. His mastery of precious details that always remain observation and never became self-conscious virtuosity, of color schemes that unified his composition in exquisite tonal harmonies is encouraging the student to start also this journey. One thing Bargue is achieving with his work it is the appetite to become excellent.