Dover Publications is a major publisher which produces books covering a range of subjects. Part of its range focuses on fine art and the history of fine art drawings and portraits. Their fine art publications are however somewhat different to those usually produced by other publishers.
Dover Art Library includes books of drawings. The drawings are in fact 95% of the content and are full plate (A4 size) and in monochome (sometimes colour); the reproduction is generally good and salient details for each drawing are often provided in full. These slim volumes of drawings generally average between 50 and 100 illustrations and can be accompanied by an introductory essay. However text can sometimes be limited to a very brief publisher's note and whatever text can be fitted onto the back cover. It's not uncommon for the drawings available from Dover Publications to either not be available or only rarely in print or online in any other form.
These are soft back publications with hard wearing glossy covers which are almost always a very economical price. Most are priced at $6.95 which means they are an absolute steal in the USA. In the UK they are priced at £6.95 or more. Given the exchange rate I think this might mean they are either making huge profits for Dover or whichever UK bookshops stocks them! (There's a very good range in the National Gallery main bookshop.) Nevertheless, they are still very good value at this price.
- Artists' Drawings covered include: Michelangelo Life Drawings, Leonardo, Leonardo Anatomical Drawings; Durer; Holbein Portrait Drawings; Rembrandt Landscape Drawings; Rembrandt Etchings; Rembrandt Drawings; Rubens, Van Gogh, Sargent Portrait Drawings; Degas (and Degas' drawings of dancers), Beardsley (Morte D'Arthur); Arthur Rackham; Chagall; Schiele Drawings; Steinlen Cats; Hopper drawings; Picasso Line Drawings and Prints; Miro lithographs;
- Drawing Themes covered include : Great Self-Portraits; Great Drawings of nudes; Old Master Life Drawings; Old Master Portrait Drawings;
It has to be said that some of the reproductions in some of the books look like they were made from photos which were taken quite some time ago and the reproduction is not always top notch. However it should be noted that I'm commenting on the difference between, for example, large reproductions of Van Gogh Drawings in a book costing £6.95 compared to smaller reproductions in a much more expensive catalogue of Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition of his works.
If you wanted to learn how to draw like an artist in the past, these are the sort of books which would be invaluable in terms of providing subject matter for educational use.
If you just want to absorb something about different approaches to drawing across a range of Old and Modern Masters then these books offer an economical way to build a library of drawings as resources.
As a collection, I rate Dover Art Publications about drawings as 5 pencils. They are unique and offer excellent value for money for what they are. Each book probably rates around 4 pencils with some rating 5 pencils where alternative sources of publications are very limited or nonexistent.