Who is H.M. Hartshorne?

When I was posing for a portrait class recently at Grand Central Atelier, a pencil drawing in the studio caught my eye. The artwork on the walls of GCA is a combination of student work and high resolution copies of academic figure drawings from books. But this one was a genuine, original framed drawing from days past. My eyes kept glancing over at it, hanging on the far side of the room, as I was really struck by the model’s statuesque pose, as well as the artist’s skilled rendering. I told myself that once my break came, I’d walk over to get a closer look.

The photo I took with my phone isn’t great, as there were studio lights glaring onto the glass and objects reflecting. But I think you can see pretty well the excellence of this piece. I’m quite taken with it. The artist was looking at the model in an upward angle, and the shadows under the chin and breasts are beautiful. And her pose … so expressive. A contrapposto with a turned head and elegantly active arm/hand gesture. Well done. Just ignore the flash spot on the thigh!

IMG-20160410-01594

The signature in the bottom right reads, “H.M. Hartshorne. Paris 1896”. The artist’s name wasn’t familiar to me. Have any of you ever heard of him? I turned to Google and the results were mostly unproductive. No Wikipedia page, no bio anywhere, no listing in any of the art resource sites I use. I was able to find out that H.M. Hartshorne stands for Howard Morton Hartshorne, and that he was a New York based artist who worked from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. This AskArt page is the closest I could find to any kind of bio. Then, I came across this –> the drawing! On an art auction site! There she is.

I assume that the drawing was acquired, at some point, by Grand Central’s founder and director Jacob Collins. I suppose I could ask him about it the next time I’m at the school. It’s easy to see how this figure drawing fits in perfectly with Grand Central’s classically-inspired tradition and commitment to the timeless aesthetic of figurative art. We models would be unemployed without it 😉

15 thoughts on “Who is H.M. Hartshorne?

  1. scultore says:

    very nice drawing! I noticed when I did a search now, you come up with 10 images on the first page!

  2. grier horner says:

    It’s obvious that H.M. Hartshorne was a tremendous draftsman. When I first looked at your post I thought it was an old photo. You’re right about the model’s skill. Something I hadn’t given much thought to until recently. I don’t understand how the drawing can be in both Grand Central’s studio and sold by the auction house. Did the studio buy it?
    Fascinating search you undertook to find a missing artist. Hope you uncover more.

    • artmodel says:

      Grier,

      According to the auction site, the drawing was sold in May 2015 – a year ago. So I’m thinking that either a Grand Central affiliated person is the one who bought it, or maybe it changed hands in the interim? We’ll only find out for sure if I ask around at the school and get to the bottom of it.

      Agree with you about Hartshorne’s draftsmanship. Really impressive work! Wish my readers could see it in person in its full glory.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  3. artmodelandrew says:

    How long do you suppose this pose was, Claudia — 3 hours minus breaks?

    I wonder if the model’s hands were resting on something stationary, such as stanchions. Otherwise, it seems like an unnatural (difficult) way to to hold your arms and hands for an extended duration. It would obstruct the view of her palms, but Hartshorne obscured them in shadow, perhaps as a way of dealing with such an obstruction. Stanchions in a fixed position would enable the model to place her hands perfectly in the same spot each time the pose is resumed after breaks. You can tape her feet, but you can’t tape the air. (Hmm. Maybe 3M research labs will come up with air tape some day.)

    My favorite part of the this drawing is the perspective, looking up at her. Unusual angles are cool. And the drawing is more interesting now that you have uncovered some hints about its history. I can see why provenance plays a role in the art gallery/museum world; it does add context and interest to a work of art.

    • artmodel says:

      Andrew,

      I think you’re right about stanchions. I mean, unless the model was so good and was able to hold her arms that way, which would make her my hero! But seriously, you and I know how difficult, and nearly impossible, that is. I once did an arm-in-midair pose during a private session, but the artist allowed me to do it for whatever length of time I was able, take a break and shake out, then again. Not an efficient way to work, obviously, but we got it done.

      Yes, the perspective is fantastic. Not only is it visually interesting but it also highlights the act of posing in a most compelling way. It kind of makes me proud to be an art model.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  4. Her face is almost photo-realistic. Beautiful drawing.

  5. Very good academic drawing, great craftmanship! I too like the low angle, the resulting distortion is very well observed. The pose, wonderful face and low vanatage point give it something extra very often lacking in this classical style. Why is it so hard to find anything about this artist…could it be this style was already outdated at that time?

    • artmodel says:

      artwithnudity,

      That’s a great point about the artist’s style. Hadn’t thought of it. If we knew more context it would be helpful, in that if this was a Hartshorne work as a student, getting his academic training, or if this was his regular thing. Or, perhaps, his paintings did not match up to his drawings. There have been quite a few artists like that: amazing drawings, but paintings just average.

      You’re right, as the consensus seems to be in the comments, that the vantage point is wonderful. I tried to picture the drawing with a straight eye-level view, and I imagine it would lose a great deal of its uniqueness. In real life, the drawing really quite mesmerizing! Looked fabulous in the GCA studio.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  6. Dave says:

    I love the drawing; it really is almost as clear as a photo. And I agree that the unusual beneath-the-model perspective makes the work even more interesting. I second Andrew’s theory that the model’s hands must have been supported and Hartshorne darkened her palms since he couldn’t see them. I know I couldn’t hold my arms dangling in air like that for more than five or ten minutes.

    Thanks for sharing the work of this unknown master with all of us, Claudia!

    • artmodel says:

      Dave,

      Ten minutes isn’t bad! But yeah, it’s tough. Damn circulation! Some studios have the ceiling ropes which I’ve used a couple of times. I don’t think those were used in the Hartshorne drawing though. The thing I wonder about are the model’s fingers. They are delicately gestured, and don’t appear to be gripping or leaning. Every artist will say how difficult it is to do hands, so I’m wondering if Hartshorne had to improvise or if the model was just super good. I swear, this gal is my hero 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  7. Bill says:

    One of the interesting things about this drawing is that, realistic though it may be, it would never be mistaken for a photograph. Perhaps at first glance — but it’s just an entirely different perception.

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