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date: 22 August 2019

Anatomical studieslocked

  • Kenneth B. Roberts


Depictions of the structure of the human body as shown by dissection. The study of anatomy (Gk.: ‘cutting apart’) has informed and stimulated European artists since the Renaissance and has also led to many remarkable feats of illustration.

Anatomy was being practised at Alexandria c. 300 bc, but no images remain from the Classical world. Illustrations demonstrating anatomy occur in European manuscripts from the 12th century onwards. They are sometimes grouped in a series of five or six diagrams of the complete human figure, each showing a frog-like, or squatting, posture. Examples of this series bear a family resemblance, showing that they were copied from earlier examples. It has been suggested that they derive from early Alexandrian originals. Similarly squatting figures occur in many cultures, possibly without connection. The frog-like series in European, and likewise in Persian and Indian manuscripts, include separate figures for representing the skeleton, arteries, veins, nerves and muscles, and often also a pregnant woman. These figures are not observations of bodily structures as seen in dissection but rather symbolic representations of the subject-matter of anatomy, ...

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