The Painter’s Secret Geometry

Shortly after I started this blog, a couple of years ago now, I wrote a series of three posts on my approach to using geometry in composing my paintings. In one of them I wrote “For painting, the go-to book is probably Charles Bouleau’s excellent The Painter’s Secret Geometry (sadly out of print, but many libraries have it).”

And it was true – at the time I remember the cheapest copy available on Abe Books was going for something like $200. I can only assume the good folks at Dover Books are reading my blog, because they issued a reprint edition about 6 months ago. Or maybe just a coincidence? … Nah, couldn’t be …

The difference between Bouleau’s book and others of a similar bent is that Bouleau’s geometric analyses of historic paintings are convincing, well thought out and explained with reference to period writings by the artists and their contemporaries. With some other books on composition you get the feeling the overlays are mostly arbitrary lines that could equally well be replaced by different ones. That’s seldom the case here.

Dover deserves a lot of credit for keeping this old stuff in print and available in reasonably priced editions. It’s great to see they’ve added this classic to their repertoire.

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