Robert Hale’s Anatomy Videos

I was pleasantly surprised to find a series of anatomy tapes by Robert Beverly Hale at my schools library after doing a catalog search of his name. These were just what the doctor ordered for me! I’m not going to lie, I often find it difficult to sit down with a book and study anatomy. I have this little voice in the back of my head that tells me I should be doing something else that is higher on the priority list and that anatomy can be saved for later. However for some reason, I can seem to justify watching an anatomy video for an hour or two. So I was pleasantly surprised to find these because I figured it would give me a more personal tour of the human body.

Robert Beverly Hale is mostly known for his books and teaching at the Art Students League of New York. Here is a brief biography courtesy Wikipedia:

Lived: 1901-1985

“Hale was an artist, curator of American paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and instructor of artistic anatomy at the Art Students League of New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. He was also the author of the well-known book “Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters” as well as the translator of the classic anatomy text “Artistic Anatomy” by Dr. Paul Richer.

Hale was born into a prominent family in Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in New York City, and studied at Columbia University, where he did post-graduate work at the School of Architecture. He also studied at the Art Students League under George Bridgman and William McNulty, and at the Sorbonne in Paris.

From 1942 to 1949 Hale worked as Editorial Associate for Art News magazine. In 1949 he became curator for contemporary American art at the Metropolitan Museum. A long-time Instructor of Drawing and Lecturer on Anatomy at the League, and Adjunct Professor of Drawing at Columbia, Hale taught and wrote on the principles of chiaroscuro and observation from life, encouraging his students to see and draw forms in nature as the geometric “mass conceptions” of cylinders, cubes, or spheres. His lectures at the League included demonstrations of life-size figure drawings, much as had those of his teacher and predecessor, George Brandt Bridgman.”


There are ten videos in all- and I thanked my lucky stars that I have a TV with a built-in working VCR! They were recorded in 1985 and it’s pretty amazing that I can even still watch them. The cassette labels on some of them even started to come off when I took them out of their packages. I’m sure these tapes haven’t been viewed in years. The tapes say that their runtime is about 80 minutes each and they were recorded in the 70’s by a student named Tom Hall for the purpose of documenting Hale before he passed on. So, they are not formal videos and weren’t made with the intention of showing them as an instructional aide to students. Imagine if you went into a class with a video recorder and recorded your professor giving a lecture- that is what they are like. By this time Hale was quite old and I think his style of teaching in the videos is a shadow of the way he must have taught in his younger years. In these videos he’s a little forgetful and loses his place at times, nevertheless there is much information to be gleaned.

The tapes consist of:

Tape 1: The Ribcage
Tape 2: The Pelvis
Tape 3: The Leg
Tape 4: The Foot
Tape 5: The Shoulder Girdle
Tape 6: Shoulder Girdle cont.
Tape 7: The Arm
Tape 8: The Hand
Tape 9: The Head
Tape 10: Head and Features

At some point, the rights to the films were acquired by a couple whom I don’t need to name, but they are selling these videos as DVD’s for 800 dollars. As good as Hale is, I can assure you that for the exorbitant price of 800 dollars, you can certainly find other ways of teaching yourself what Hale teaches here and more. For 800 dollars, you could:

~$200.00- enroll in an anatomy class at a community college.
~$165.00- Buy yourself eight 4-5 star rated anatomy books on Amazon.
~$225.00- Buy yourself four 4-5 star rated anatomy DVD’s on Amazon. (One set on there even contains 8 DVDs.)

Wow, we aren’t even close to 800 dollars yet. You could still probably hire a bunch of models and buy yourself some art equipment to make it come to 800 total. In fact, once again- if you are enrolled in any kind of college, chances are you have access to borrowing material from another college. So you could pay 200 for an anatomy class and then just borrow Hale’s videos from another college! When I do a search on, it shows about 160 library institutions around the country as owning these videos. Chances are, there is one near you. I’m just saying that as nice as Hale’s videos are, you would be nuts in my humble opinion to pay 800 dollars for them. Even the pay per view option for the online videos is a rip off. Don’t do it.

The runtime of these videos are about 70-80 minutes each so they are pretty lengthy. The most I can seem to watch is two of them in one day. Anyway if you have a chance to view them for free then you might as well try taking a look. Here are a few excerpts from them:

That’s all for now, back to making art!