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Review
. 2010 Feb;216(2):192-208.
doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01181.x.

Style and Non-Style in Anatomical Illustration: From Renaissance Humanism to Henry Gray

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Free PMC article
Review

Style and Non-Style in Anatomical Illustration: From Renaissance Humanism to Henry Gray

Martin Kemp. J Anat. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Style is a familiar category for the analysis of art. It is less so in the history of anatomical illustration. The great Renaissance and Baroque picture books of anatomy illustrated with stylish woodcuts and engravings, such as those by Charles Estienne, Andreas Vesalius and Govard Bidloo, showed figures in dramatic action in keeping with philosophical and theological ideas about human nature. Parallels can be found in paintings of the period, such as those by Titian, Michelangelo and Hans Baldung Grien. The anatomists also claimed to portray the body in an objective manner, and showed themselves as heroes of the discovery of human knowledge. Rembrandt's painting of Dr Nicholas Tulp is the best-known image of the anatomist as hero. The British empirical tradition in the 18th century saw William Cheselden and William Hunter working with techniques of representation that were intended to guarantee detailed realism. The ambition to portray forms life-size led to massive volumes, such as those by Antonio Mascagni. John Bell, the Scottish anatomist, criticized the size and pretensions of the earlier books and argued for a plain style adapted to the needs of teaching and surgery. Henry Gray's famous Anatomy of 1858, illustrated by Henry Vandyke Carter, aspired to a simple descriptive mode of functional representation that avoided stylishness, resulting in a style of its own. Successive editions of Gray progressively saw the replacement of Gray's method and of all his illustrations. The 150th anniversary edition, edited by Susan Standring, radically re-thinks the role of Gray's book within the teaching of medicine.

Figures

Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Demonstration of the Vessels and Muscles from the Front (three untrimmed plates arranged to form complete figure), drawn by Antonio Seratoni, from Anatomia universa Paolo Mascagni (1823–31).
Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Plate VI, drawn by Jan van Rymsdyk, from Anatomia uteri humani gravidi [The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus], William Hunter (1774).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Demonstration of the Abdomen of a Woman to Show the Womb, from La Dissection des parties du corps humain, Charles Estienne (1546).
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Muscle-Man with Rhinoceros, drawn by Jan Wandelaar, from Tabulae skeleti et musculorum corporis humani, Bernard Siegfried Albinus (1747).
Fig. 6
Fig. 6
Detail of Fly on the Dissection of the Abdomen drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, from Anatomia humani corporis, Govard (Gottfried) Bidloo (1685).
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Demonstration of the Liver, drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, from Anatomia humani corporis, Govard (Gottfried) Bidloo (1685).
Fig. 20
Fig. 20
Sketch Representing the Backpart of the Heart, from The Anatomy of the Human Body, John Bell (1794–1804).
Fig. 22
Fig. 22
Dissection of the Genital Region with the Abdomen, Thorax and Diaphragm, from Engravings Explaining the Anatomy of the Human Body, John Bell (1797).
Fig. 7
Fig. 7
Demonstration of the Nerves, from La Dissection des parties du corps humain, Charles Estienne (1546).
Fig. 9
Fig. 9
Cornelius Cort, engraving after Titian (1567), Chiesa de’ Gesuiti, Venice.
Fig. 8
Fig. 8
7th Plate of the Muscles, drawn by Jan Steven von Kalkar, from De humani corporis fabrica, Andreas Vesalius (1543).
Fig. 11
Fig. 11
St Bartholomew from the Last Judgement, Michelangelo (1537-41), Sistine Chapel, Vatican.
Fig. 10
Fig. 10
Flayed Man holding his own Skin, drawn by Gaspar Beccara (?), from Historia de la composición del cuerpo humano, Jan Valverde de Hamusco (1556).
Fig. 13
Fig. 13
Death and the Maiden, Hans Baldung Grien (1518–20), Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel.
Fig. 12
Fig. 12
Dissection of the Thorax, Abdomen and Cranium, woodcut, Hans Wächtlin (1517).
Fig. 14
Fig. 14
Tools and Vivisection Board, drawn by Jan Steven von Kalkar from De humani corporis fabrica, Andreas Vesalius (1543).
Fig. 15
Fig. 15
Skeleton, drawn by Jan Steven von Kalkar, from De humani corporis fabrica, Andreas Vesalius (1543).
Fig. 16
Fig. 16
Portrait of Govard Bidloo drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, from Anatomia humani corporis, Bidloo (1685).
Fig. 17
Fig. 17
Anatomy of Dr Tulp, Rembrandt (1632), The Hague, Maristhuis. For a larger version of this image, see Ingham, this issue (2010).
Fig. 18
Fig. 18
Title Page of Osteographia, William Cheselden (1733).
Fig. 19
Fig. 19
Fetus and Membranes, drawn by Jan van Rymsdyk, from Anatomia uteri humani gravidi [The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus], William Hunter (1774).
Fig. 21
Fig. 21
Dissection of the Muscles of the Face, from Engravings Explaining the Anatomy of the Human Body, John Bell (1797).
Fig. 23
Fig. 23
The Superficial Lymphatics and Glands of the Head, Face and Neck drawn by Henry Vandyke Carter, from Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical, Henry Gray (1858).
Fig. 24
Fig. 24
Horizontal Cross-Section of the Head, drawn by C. Schmiedel, from Topographisch-anatomischer Atlas nach durchschnitten an gefrornen Cadavern, Wilhelm Braune (1872). Courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine.

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