Anatomical illustration

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Depictions of the structure of the human body as shown by dissection. The study of anatomy (Gr.: ‘cutting apart’) has informed and stimulated European artists since the Renaissance and has also led to many remarkable feats of illustration. Although anatomy demonstrated by dissection was part of medical training in German-speaking regions in the 16th century, artists there seem to have been less dedicated to it than those in Italy. Dürer himself saw Leonardo's anatomical notebooks, or at least copies of some of the drawings, but did not himself study anatomy. Other northern artists of the earlier 16th century did, however, sometimes contribute to academic anatomy. A series of anatomical woodcuts, issued in Strasbourg, Marburg and Paris from 1517, were passed from publisher to publisher, added to and recut. The figures of brain dissections in Dryander's Anatomia capitis humani (Marburg, 1536) are particularly dramatic. In Walther Hermann Ryff's Anatomi (Strasbourg, 1541), these figures are modified, probably by Hans Baldung. His female figure on a Classical throne is an elegant design—the type of gravida familiar from medieval manuscripts and the Fasciculo, but clearer and less inaccurate.


From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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