London: Longmans, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1806. 4to. 295 x 230 mm. (11 1/2 x 9 inches). [xii], 184 of 186 pp., missing the half-title to Essay VI at p. 105-106. Illustrated with 7 engraved plates and stipple engravings in the text. Near contemporary black leather spine and tips, marbled paper boards; some light rubbing to the joints, otherwise very sound and attractive. Engraved bookplate of Thomas Picton Rose Richards.
Like his older brother John Bell, Charles was not only a noted and highly regarded surgeon, but also an accomplished artist who brought his skills at drawing and painting to the field of anatomy. In this work on the anatomy of expression Bell's goal was to provide artists with a better understanding of the physiological nature of the human body in order for them to better delineate emotions in their artwork. The text engravings that accompany much of the text demonstrate Bell’s skills, both as an observer and practitioner of the art of drawing. Some are quite disturbing as he attempts to depict the effects of emotions on human face. The engravings were executed by John Stewart of Edinburgh, who was one of the founding members of the Royal Society of Scotland in 1835. He apprenticed to Robert Scott of Edinburgh and studied at the Trustees' Academy in that city.
In his introductory essay Charles Bell writes, "The anatomy of painting . . ., forms not only a science of great interest, but that from which alone the artist can derive the true spirit of observation; learn to distinguish what is essential in just expression; and be enabled to direct his attention to appearances which might otherwise escape his notice, but on which much of the effect and force, and much even of the delicacy of his delineations, will be found to depend." In his book Expressions of the Emotions, Charles Darwin writes that Bell, "laid the foundations of the subject as a branch of science." (307). Item #307
Intersection of Art and Science.