United States: early twentieth century. Oblong album, measuring 8.5 x 12 inches: 43 manuscript leaves. Original brown pebbled cloth boards, titled “Plates” in gilt on front board. Drawings executed rectos only, in ink and watercolor, on Whatman Turkey Mill paper. Some dust-soiling to edges of early leaves, upper board starting, side-stitching renewed.
Wonderfully detailed suite of forty technical drawings by H.A. Brown, apparently the coursework of an engineering student, divided into three sections with title pages: Plane Problems (plates I-V), Elements of Drawing (plates I-XII and I-XXI) and Projections (plates I-II). Each drawing is precise and hyperreal, the work of an obvious perfectionist, neatly signed. Some are geometric line drawings, while others are effectively abstract paintings, compositions of weighted shapes and fields of color. Brown’s detailed treatment of stone walls and woodgrain is particularly notable. The identity of “H.A. Brown” is not positively known; there was, however, a widely published American physicist by that name, who began his career as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Illinois in the 1920s. Throughout his career, he used only the initials “H.A.,” as is the case with the creator of this album. The opening title page features a caricature of a man balanced on a rope, a whimsical touch that looks, in its style, to date from the early twentieth century. A compelling survival.