Harold Speed (1872-1957) was an English portrait painter. He studied architecture at the Royal College of Art, but after discovering a passion for painting, completed his education in the fine arts at the Royal Academy. He was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and is best known for his figurative work in oil and red chalk. His technical and theoretical writings continue to inspire a new generation of artists.
Image credits have been maintained to preserve the work's original context,
however some images have been replaced by higher resolution sources—all
images in the book are now in the public domain.
Plate X - The first edition attributes this plate to Lui Liang, however this attribution is now contested.
Some believe it may be the work of Zhang Fu.
Plate XII - The first edition lists this plate as attributed to Michael Angelo. It is now believed that
this is a copy after Michael Angelo. This plate is also rotated 90° clockwise from the presently accepted orientation of the work.
This may have been done intentionally, Speed mentions later in the book that Plate XXXII B is intentionally rotated 90° to better illustrate
the image's rhythm.
The Appendix discusses the appearance of the phi ratio in the book's illustrations and conjectures that
artists have used this proportion because it has a particularity pleasing appearance. Because this ratio appears in nature,
many artists considered it to be of divine beauty and to represent some ideal law of proportion. Science now tells us
that this proportion occurs in nature solely due to a Darwinian "natural selection" origin—the previewed beauty of this
proportion over others is entirely subjective. For further information on the subject I recommend Professor Keith Devlin's
lecture The Golden Ratio & Fibonacci Numbers: Fact versus Fiction