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Skeleton of a boy sitting on the 'D' of 'Dream', from Francesco Bertinatti, Elementi di anatomia fisiologica applicata alle belle arti figurative (Turin, 1837-39).  Artist: Mecco Leone. Lithograph
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Another Reality

The Colorized Human Project

Four views of heads from different angles, plus feet, eyes, other parts, to show the veins and arteries. Cropped from Paolo Mascagni, Anatomia universale... (Florence, 1833). Overprinted and hand colored copperplate engraving. Artist: Antonio Serantoni.
A dissected cadaver, with flaps of muscle flying off the body, salutes. Cropped from Paolo Mascagni, Anatomia universale... (Florence, 1833). Overprinted and hand colored copperplate engraving. Artist: Antonio Serantoni.
Three dissected men lined up to show muscular and skeletal anatomy. Cropped from Jean Baptiste Sarlandière, Systematized anatomy; or, Human organography (New York, 1837). Chromolithograph. Artist: J. Bisbee.

By the late 1700s, the commitment to empirical representation of the body was increasingly asserted by an obsessive attention to detail that went beyond realism. The anatomy of the 1800s featured fine line, rich texture, and, in much of the material, intense color. In realistic rendering, detail is often obscured—the eye can’t make certain things out. In the hyper-realism of the new anatomy, detail stands out in shocking, dream-like clarity, a demanding visual effect that requires sophisticated artistry and a deeper understanding of bodily structure and function derived from pathological anatomy. In much of hyper-realist anatomy, the image is a composite, idealized, and beautified body; the process of dissection and setting of the anatomy room are suppressed as an unnecessary distraction.

Profile cross-section of a dissected man with his tongue sticking out. Cropped from Paolo Mascagni, Anatomia universale... (Florence, 1833). Overprinted and hand colored copperplate engraving. Artist: Antonio Serantoni.
Part of a man’s head on a block, only the back is dissected; the face is intact. Cropped from George Viner Ellis, Illustrations of dissections in a series of original coloured plates, the size of life, representing the dissection of the human body... (London, 1867). Chromolithograph. Artist: George Henry Ford.
A young man with eyes closed, his chest skin and breast plate removed to show his heart. Cropped from Francis Sibson, Medical anatomy... (London, 1869). Chromolithograph. Artist: William Fairland.

Monumental Books
Beautiful Ugliness: Bidloo
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Timeline: Technologies of Anatomical Representation

1300s Woodcut printing brought from China to Europe, used to print textiles

1400s Paper becomes available in Western Europe

1423 Earliest known European woodcut print on paper

1452 Copperplate engraving invented

1450s Moveable type invented; Gutenberg Bible printed (1455)

1491 First illustrated printed medical book published in Venice, Johannes de Ketham, Fasciculus Medicinae

1543 First profusely illustrated anatomy, Vesalius, De Humani Corporis Fabrica

1620s First multi-color printed illustrations

1630s Etching invented

1642 Mezzotint invented by Ludwig von Siegen, a German army colonel

1740s Mezzotint color printing method perfected

1780s Thomas Bewick develops modern technique of wood engraving

1798 Lithography invented in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder

1837 Daguerre invents first practical photographic method

1895 Roentgen demonstrates x-ray imaging

More Information on Technologies of Anatomical Representation