International Journal of Art & Design Education

George Wallis (1811–1891) and Ernest Beinfeld Havell (1861–1934): Juxtaposing Historical Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Drawing Books in England and India

Volume 36.1   2017



Drawing books can be seen as a vital component to teaching and learning art. They serve as an excellent resource for understanding the historical context of teaching drawing. As the industrial revolution geared forward in the nineteenth century, drawing books became a crucial source for sharing and disseminating educational philosophies for the teaching of drawing as well as understanding artistic practices. Serving many informal and traditional educational contexts, drawing books can be seen as evidence of how people learned or were taught. Although many accounts of teaching of drawing are known, little is documented about the many drawing manuals developed by art educators in England and its colonies, specifically India. This article examines nineteenth-century drawing books by George Wallis (1811–91) and Ernest Beinfeld Havell (1861–1934) and the subsequent influence of these books on art education in England and India. Through comparison between the different approaches of authoring these drawing books, one could argue that both Havell and Wallis pursued nationalistic and personal goals by juxtaposing the authoring styles of their books. It was evident that George Wallis’ authorship of his drawing books was grounded in his philosophy of education, appreciation for design education, and dedication to England. Havell's drawing books, on the other hand, attempted to provide students with the knowledge of Indian sculpture, architecture and painting thereby exposing them to India's artistic heritage as well as raising awareness about utilising Indian art as the basis of instruction at the Indian art schools as part of the larger Indian nationalist movement against British rule. Their histories cumulatively bring to print a specific account of drawing manuals used during the nineteenth century and their influence on the teaching and learning of drawing in England and India.