The human body has fascinated people for as long as we have had recorded history, but never more so than over the last 400 years. Since the Renaissance, artists, performers, and natural philosophers (who would later just be called ‘scientists’) drew their inspiration from the mysterious inner workings of the body.
There’s some great recent writing about the history and philosophy of anatomy, including studies of anatomy in Britain from 1700-1900 (MacDonald, 2014), critical analyses of anatomy lectures (Frieson and Roth, 2014), and Andreas Vesalius’s public anatomy lessons (Shotwell, 2015). But there are also two new resources on the web that I came across recently that are quite amazing (click on the linked titles to jump to the site):
This site displays the anatomical atlases held by the National Library of Medicine in the USA. There are some fabulous large scale pen drawings to see here, mostly covering the ‘golden age’ of anatomical drawing from 1500-1800.
This site is the work of medical illustrator Vanessa Ruiz and is truly stunning. Ruiz has turned her interest in the visual beauty of anatomy into a business and turned medical imagery into an art form. Some of the projects are pure inspiration – a radiator for your home designed like a capillary bed for instance – and all prove what’s possible if you think creatively. My personal favourite has to be the anatomical sushi. Genius.
Friesen, N., & Roth, W. -M. (2014). The anatomy lecture then and now: A foucauldian analysis. Educational Philosophy and Theory. doi:10.1080/00131857.2013.796872.
Hutton, F. (2014). The study of anatomy in britain, 1700–1900. In The study of anatomy, 1700-1900 (p. hku016). London: Pickering & Chatto.
Shotwell, R. A. (2015). Animals, pictures, and skeletons: Andreas vesalius’s reinvention of the public anatomy lesson. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrv001.