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Recommended Monographs and How-To Books for Realist Artists

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The list author says: "These are some of my favorite instructional or inspirational books in my collection."
J.W. Waterhouse
J.W. Waterhouse
"I am a big fan of John William Waterhouse, and this monograph by Peter Trippi is excellent.  The large format of the hardcover edition provides for good size images of the artist’s work."
Beyond Impressionism: The Naturalist Impulse
Beyond Impressionism: The Naturalist Impulse
"This is a book I just keep coming back to again and again.  It has sections on Friant, Bastien-Lepage, Claussen, Dagnan-Bouveret, Stanhope Forbes, etc..  Wonderful plates and great examples from the art of this time period."
Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Transformation of the Academic Tradition
Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Transformation of the Academic Tradition
"Another fantastic book on the Naturalist Movement in France by Dr. Weisberg.  This book deals specifically with one of Gérôme’s best students, Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929)."
Charles Bargue Drawing Course, with the collaboration of Jean-Leon Gerome.
Charles Bargue Drawing Course, with the collaboration of Jean-Leon Gerome.
"This is a great book with plates originally designed in the nineteenth century for the academic art student to copy."
Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting
Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting
"A fantastic book by a modern master, Alla Prima covers Richard’s palette, philosophies, and way of seeing.  Now in its eighth printing, it’s finally available in a more affordable paperback edition (direct from the artist)."
A Manual of Oil Painting
A Manual of Oil Painting
"The book is more expensive than a Dover book, but that it what it most resembles.  It is small, and the interior is nothing more than the scanned copy of the third printing (1889), but the information is good.  The first half focuses on practice & training, and the second half on color/vision theory."
Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Lawrence Alma-Tadema
"Alma-Tadema is another of my favorites, and this is one of the best books out there on this artist of classical subjects."
Exposed: The Victorian Nude
Exposed: The Victorian Nude
"I loved the show which this book accompanied, and though I wish some of  the paintings had received larger plates, it is still a nice collection of artwork.  Leighton, Waterhouse, and Draper are among the artists featured."
Creative Illustration
Creative Illustration
"This was the Holy Grail amongst illustrators, as so many tried to get their hands on this informative, out-of-print book.  Loomis covers composition, tone, color, and storytelling in this 1947 manual designed as an aid for professional commercial artists. Look for an upcoming reprint from Titan Books."
Figure Drawing For All It's Worth
Figure Drawing For All It's Worth
"Another great book by American illustrator and teacher, Andrew Loomis.  As the title implies, this manual focuses on drawing the figure.  Valuable lessons and great, glamorous drawings by Loomis.  Check out the excellent hardcover reprint from Titan Books, and all of the rest of their Loomis re-issues."
The Painter in Oil
The Painter in Oil
"Written by a student of Bouguereau, this book offers a wealth of information about materials and processes of the nineteenth century academic painter."
Brushwork Essentials: How to Render Expressive Form and Texture with Every Stroke
Brushwork Essentials: How to Render Expressive Form and Texture with Every Stroke
"Despite having more than a dozen Northlight books, there are very few of which I am fond.  This book, however, fills a nice void in the instruction book market:  how to handle a brush.  I found it very interesting, and it made me look at the brushwork in some of my favorite paintings a bit differently."
Orientalists: Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia and
Orientalists: Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia and
"An affordable book on Orientalist art, with nice clear plates, detail images, and information on artists not normally profiled in most books readily available on this topic."
Herbert James Draper: A Life Study
Herbert James Draper: A Life Study
"This is the only book out there on Draper, a fantastic artist whose subject matter was similar to Waterhouse."
John Singer Sargent, Complete Paintings, Volume 1: The Early Portraits (Vol 1)
John Singer Sargent, Complete Paintings, Volume 1: The Early Portraits (Vol 1)
"The definitive collection of Sargent’s paintings, make sure to check all of the volumes in this catalog raisonné."
DE LA'SZLO': A Brush with Grandeur
DE LA'SZLO': A Brush with Grandeur
"This book, along with de László in Holland, are the beginnings of a project to create a catalog raisonné of this artist’s work.  Though not as well known as Sargent, it was de László who took over Sargent’s mantle, and became an even more successful portrait artist."
The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition
The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition
"Tony Ryder is a Zen-like master whose meditations consist of tiny, specifically placed brush and pencil marks on a blank canvas.  This is a wonderful exploration of a classically based approach to drawing the figure."
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques: Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated (Reference)
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques: Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated (Reference)
"This book has been around for a while (and some may say that because of that, there isn’t enough on the newest art supplies), but it is still one of the best resources for information on pigments, methods, and materials.  It should be in every artist’s reference collection."
William Merritt Chase: The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Vol. 2: Portraits in Oil
William Merritt Chase: The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Vol. 2: Portraits in Oil
"Chase was a gifted artist, and this book has many plates of his work.  I wish the images were larger and clearer, and more were in color, but it's still a great volume on this artist, and there is nothing else out there which can compare to it."
A Life in the Arts (Inner Work Book)
A Life in the Arts (Inner Work Book)
"My first non-art, art book to make the list, this self-help book was enjoyable, if only to reinforce the idea that all artists go through the same struggles with self-confidence, depression, and creative blocks."
Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (Dover Art Instruction)
Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (Dover Art Instruction)
"A great little book.  Also check out Speed's "The Practice & Science of Drawing""
Landscape Painting,
Landscape Painting,
"An interesting, little book with nuggets of good information spread throughout."
Composition of Outdoor Painting
Composition of Outdoor Painting
"A wonderful book, with great ink drawings illustrating composition ideas, a few examples of Payne's exemplary landscapes, and much thought provoking ideas from this modern master painter."
The Practice of Oil Painting and of Drawing As Associated With It
The Practice of Oil Painting and of Drawing As Associated With It
"A great overview of the classic art course, written nearly a century ago."
Rockwell on Rockwell: How I Make a Picture
Rockwell on Rockwell: How I Make a Picture
"The other “Illustrator’s Bible,” this is a wonderful walkthrough of Rockwell’s methods written by the artist himself."
Bouguereau
Bouguereau
"Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905) is one of the greatest artists of the 19th century, who, unfortunately, was erased from art history.  His photo-idealist paintings still present a technical prowess for which many of today’s contemporary realist painters still strive."
J.C. Leyendecker: American Imagist
J.C. Leyendecker: American Imagist
"The Cutlers, co-founders of the National Museum of American Illustration, turned a 12 year labor of love into a fantastic book on one of America’s greatest illustrators of the Golden Age."
N. C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals
N. C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals
"This is a great introduction to this star of the Golden Age of Illustration.  Many of Wyeth’s greatest works are reproduced here, from famous book covers, to his seldom-seen fine art pieces."
Landscape Painting Inside and Out: Capture the Vitality of Outdoor Painting in Your Studio With Oils
Landscape Painting Inside and Out: Capture the Vitality of Outdoor Painting in Your Studio With Oils
"This books is filled with practical information on plein air painting materials and offer nice little exercises and demos for the beginning outdoor painter.  Also check out his other book, Fill Your Paintings with Light and Color."
Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist
Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist
"In the book are the answers which fill in many of the gaps in traditional training, and it is, by rights, a wonderful companion book to such instructional classics as Andrew Loomis' Creative Illustration and Norman Rockwell's Rockwell on Rockwell."
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
"An amazing book filled with information I wish they taught in schools when I was earning my degree."
Edouard Dantan 1848-1897 : Des ateliers parisiens aux marines normandes
Edouard Dantan 1848-1897 : Des ateliers parisiens aux marines normandes
"Beautiful paintings from an all-but-forgotten painter.  Text is in French."
Twilight of Painting
Twilight of Painting
The Painter's Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art
The Painter's Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art
"The book was originally published for $12.00, but now sells for hundreds.  Occasionally one pops up for less.  I bought my copy in 2011 for under $90."
Frederic, Lord Leighton: Eminent Victorian Artist
Frederic, Lord Leighton: Eminent Victorian Artist
Maxfield Parrish
Maxfield Parrish
"The plates in this book, originally printed in 1973, are not as good as those in more modern books, but the Ludwig book makes up for it with a nice section on Parrish's technique."
The Artist's Assistant
The Artist's Assistant
The Art of Impressionism: Painting Technique and the Making of Modernity
The Art of Impressionism: Painting Technique and the Making of Modernity
William McGregor Paxton
William McGregor Paxton
Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked
Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked