01 June 2007

John Hull Grundy. Human Structure and Shape. 1982.

"...a knowledge of muscles and bones is not enough for the anatomical draughtsman; he must also have a reverence for the parts, engendered by a deeper understanding and sympathy with the nature of the Human Machine, which constitutes the most perfect and free-living structure in existence."

John Hull Grundy. HUMAN STRUCTURE AND SHAPE.Noble Books, Chibolton, Hampshire, UK. 1982.

Current Selling Prices
$400+ /£200+

Much wanted and practically unfindable anatomy book. Wanted by medics, artists, body workers, dancers and moi. The work has a flowing, connected quality that sets it apart from the Mr Muscle charts hanging on clinic walls. His artwork on bugs (insects) is more widely known than his work on human anatomy. He was a gifted teacher and lecturer, and a perfectionist in his draughtsmanship; he was known to tear up an almost perfect and completed picture because of a small inaccuracy. It would break the hearts of some of his students to watch him erase the most exacting and superbly executed drawings from the blackboard as if they were mere doodles.

John Hull Grundy studied art at King's College and the Chelsea School of Art in London before joining the staff of the Royal College of Art. The advent of World War II drew him into the world of medicine, and he developed his drawing of the body with anatomical studies made for the Royal College of Surgeons and the Orpington War Hospital. In 1942, he began as lecturer in Entomology at the Royal Army Medical College in London, a post he kept until his retirement in 1967. On his retirement, he was named a member of the British Empire (MBE). There is not a lot on Grundy on the web but I found a a good article by Thomas Myers on him in the AMTA journal. Myers writes:-
Human Structure and Shape was compiled in the early 1980s by Dr. Smith from drawings that spanned Grundy's entire career, beginning in the 1920s. Therefore, the pictures display an incredible variety of style and method. They also display a remarkable set of insights into human movement unequaled in both visual accessibility and simple common sense.
To give some flavor of his thinking...here are a few quotes from his brief introduction to the book: "The word Anatomy has a Greek derivation, ana- up, and temno-to cut, and means the study of the animal machine by taking it to pieces in order to understand and reconstruct it in the memory."
I love this part about reconstructing it in the memory. In the massage profession, the study of anatomy suffers precisely because so much of its presentation is not memorable. Part of this situation is that, in order to feel "professional," massage schools have sought out medical practitioners-doctors, chiropractors, etc.-in an attempt to enhance the credibility of their programs. While the motivation concerning lifting the profession is laudable, the end result is often that massage students are being taught aspects of anatomy more relevant to medical pathology than to the daily practice of hands-on soft-tissue work, so the anatomy is forgotten as irrelevant.
For the massage therapist, the reason for studying anatomy is very simple: When you can "reconstruct in your memory" the structures under your hands, your intuitions, perceptions and assessments about those structures will be more clear and more reliable. The study of anatomy is not anathema to intuition; to the contrary, it is one of its strongest pillars of support. But it has to be taught memorably...."Doctors and medical men want to know about function more than they do about shape. The Artist, on the other hand, is chiefly interested in the shape itself. Nature is such a good Architect that she shapes her work so that it efficiently performs its duties," he writes.
Grundy goes on to excoriate both medical and artistic anatomies for not successfully combining the two ends of the spectrum, and urges the student to follow the example of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci by personally exploring without being frightened or bored by the complexity of the body. The student should push through, drawn by his reason, to "fill in the empty spaces in the ranks of culture, as well as using his brain on the most wonderful thing ever constructed."
Though Grundy's respect for the body was boundless, he knew well, from his study of insect infestations, the problems associated with humans on the earth. He quotes Nietzche: "The Earth has a skin, and that skin hath diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called man."

VALUE? It is very hard to be sure. I have never seen a copy for sale and it was probably published in a smallish quantity. The kind of book you might see in an Oxfam shop for £3. There are no copies anywhere so I would say £200-- in Ventura and other epicentres of relisting it would be $1200, but a relister has to find at least one listing somewhere on which to piggyback and there are none. There are alot of people looking for the book and I can find no suggestion that it will be reprinted. [ W/Q ***]


Brian Stephens said...

I was trained by John Hull Grundy at the Royal Army Medical College. I had three months there in 1949 and then went to the then Army School of Hygiene at Ash Vale near Farnborough. He was a quiet, shy man but meticulous in all matters. especially for the laying out of the demonstrations for the college students. He had a kind touch too. He gave me and a fellow student passes to London Zoo for a Sunday morning visit. Another time he told us to go to St. James' Park to collect larvae from the lake. It happened to coincide with the rehearsal of the trooping of the Colour and we were able to see all the pageantry of the return of the parade to the Palace. On his death he left a large sum of money, from his Rich American wife (Anne Hull Grundy q.v.). You can see some of her jewellery in the British Museum.

Anonymous said...

Mea culpa. Anne Hull Grnudy was in facr German, a refugee from the Nazis, not American as I previously thought.

francesca rachet said...

he must have been one of my mother's teachers at the Royal College of Art, I have a correspondance (letters sent to the w.r.e.n.s quarters in Stanmore), full of drawings of bits of insects(flies), and reflections on Italian art...

Anonymous said...

I have the book if anyone is interested in purchasing it? georgiesandford76@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a Masters Student at Manchester University and along with fellow students we are curating a pop-up exhibition of medical objects from Manchester University Medical Museum at Chetham's Library on 12th December in Manchester. I am researching a beautiful and anatomically accurate drawing of a skeleton donated by John Hull Grundy to the medical museum (he was a very generous man and also left a collection of coins / medals to the university collection). His drawing of the skeleton will be on display and copies of his book are held with the Museum and Manchester University. In doing this research I have been fascinated by this extremely talented and kind polymath, and the comment by Brian Stephens was touching, so I decided to post this.