Final Exams at Art School

When I was at the Charles Cecil Studios there were no final examinations – Charles would probably consider the concept of art examinations absurd. We were simply expected to become very good at painting and drawing and then go off and make a living, which, even with the excellent training received, is actually a great deal harder than any exam could ever be. Exams, however, do exist in some fine art schools. Eric Hebborn, the very successful master forger whom I mentioned in an earlier post, laments in his autobiography the scrapping of the more challenging final exams at his art school. “The Ministry of Education of the time [1951] had decided that it would be fairer to reduce the difficulties presented by this examination rather than increase the students’ capacity to meet them.” Below are examples of questions from one of those older, harder, examinations.  I find them daunting. Hebborn assumed he would have failed them.

Artistic Anatomy

1. Draw from memory a tennis player in the act of serving a ball.

2. Draw a skeleton in the same pose and from the same angle as your first drawing. The skeleton should be complete as to the number of bones, and the articulation of the joints clearly rendered.

3. Again using the same pose and point of view as in your first drawings, draw the superficial muscles of the body.

4. Name the origins and insertions of the following muscles: sternocleidomastoid, deltoid, pectoralis, trapezius, obliquus externus, sartorius and gastrocnemius.


You are standing at an open window on the fourth floor of a building in a busy thoroughfare. Directly across the road is a building identical to the one you are in yourself. On the ground floor of this building, Mrs Smith is leaning out of a window to look down the street in the middle of which both Mrs Smith and yourself can see a monument in the form of an equestrian statue on an oblong plinth. At the very end of the road is a church and spire.

Make two drawings; one showing what Mrs Smith sees, and another showing what you yourself see. The drawings must be drawn to the same scale, show a variety of vehicles, and include architecture from three different periods. Both drawings are to be accompanied by technical drawings showing how you arrived at their construction.