Sappol 2006

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"Until the invention of X-ray imaging, sonograms, CT scans, MRIs, and the like, the only way to see into ourselves was through the dissection of dead human beings. The dissected cadaver was our mirror." (6)
"The anatomist was a performer. Anatomy required showmanship." (6)
"Neither Vesalius nor his artists could conceive of, or desire, a work governed entirely by austere naturalism. Quite the contrary, they wanted to entertain their readers and themselves. They responded to a pervasive cultural expectation that governed printed images in early modern Europe: the illustration should be, in some way, delightful, and should tell a story. So when Vesalius entered the scene, things got more scientific, but also wittier and more theatrical." (17)

between 1680 and 1800, conventions shifted; "suddenly a boundary separated art and science -- a rift that ran right through death and the dead boy. Art and science came to be defined in mutually exclusive ways. That separation still has force today." (25)

Bacon; invoked anatomy "as an exemplary science, a method of systematic observation and discovery that went beneath the surface of things and discerned the parts of a larger natural order that could only be known through detailed, piecemeal exploration" (26)

no composites, no artistic embellishments; "The new anatomy had a relentless gaze that seemed almost to terrorize its subjects and its viewers. There was also a tdchnological corollary: the imperative to render precise views of the body made anatomists more reliant on technically masterful draftsmanship and sophisticated printing techniques such as etching and copperplate engraving which permitted more detailed representation." (28) -- almost photographic quality, perhaps influenced by camera obscura

  • "Technological innovationa nd technical mastery encouraged the new hyper-realistic style, and vice versa." (28)
"The anatomical illustration, by virtue of its proximity to the illegitimate domain of pornography had a glow, a tingle." (34)

science, Royal Society as response to religious tuormil; "in sequestered spaces, away from the violent struggles of competing religious sects, social groups, political factions, dynasties and nations, the natural philosopher could produce and accumulate dependable knowledge of the material world: unadorned, sober, reliable facts." (39)

new universalist style at the end of 18c; technically difficult, since Gautier's mezzotint process was hard to imitate; John Lizars and Paolo Mascagni used labor-intensive methods, too; development of chromolithography and other cmomercially feasible technologies of color printing contributed to universalist style's popularity

"Why is anatomical art so popular in the present moment? Why does the new conceptual art anatomy speak so powerfully to us? Here's my theory: For hundreds of years, the anatomist and artist did ventriloquism with cadavers, making them speak, sing, dance, and tell jokes. Eventually the tables turned: the images of anatomy became part of us, started speaking through us. We became the ventrioloquist's dummy, an effigy of the anatomical self. Anatomical identity inhabits us, even as it coexists with, and infuses, other representations of the body." (68)

Charles Estienne, De dissectione partium corporie (1545); "To cut costs, Estienne took some of his illustrations from non-anatomical books, replacing the middle of the woodblock with an insert that depicted the body's interior. In these figures, the boundary of the insert is revealed by a faint white line." (94)

"In the 18c, the development of mezzotint, and printing methods that combined etching and engraving, made it possible to make illustrations of startling beauty and painterly texture. Published in monumental scale and on fine paper, these plates were spectacles of anatomical science, artistry and advanced print technology -- the final act of anatomy's theatrical tradition. Two notable exponents of this extravagant anatomy were the German anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (16697-1770) and French artist-printer-publisher Jacques Fabien Gautier d'Agoty (1717-1785)." (116)

illustrations in William Hunter's anatomy "were drawn and printed life-size, to avoid distortions of scale"" (121)

"In the 1810s, Dutch anatomist Pieter de Riemer made specimens from frozen human bodies; 40 years later Russian anatomist Nicholas Pirogoff conceived of a similar method "by which the human body could be cut like wood into thin sections." Wilhelm Braune developed and popularized the technique." (130)
"Anatomists first began to take cross sections from frozen cadavers in the early 1800s. They found that slices could translate the three-dimensional complexity of organic structures into flat, easy-to-read specimens, which then could be preserved or drawn by an artist." (156)
  • 1989, National Library of Medicine, frozen cross sections to "make a comprehensive digitized 'library' of the human body: the Visible Human Project" (156)

The Visible Human as Atlas Holding the World

  • "Seventeenth-century readers were encouraged to think of the anatomical body in geographical terms, as 'a little world,' a microcosm. 'Whatsoever is in the universal world is also in man,' and made visible through anatomy, argued Nicholas Culpepper in 1654. Thie piece, based on a celebrated ancient statue, the Farnese Atlas (ca. 200 A.D., currently in the National Archeological Museum, Naples), updates the metaphor." (158)

The Visible Human Plexi-Book