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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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Dissection Scenes and Fancies

Anatomical Frontpieces and Title Pages

Title pages and frontispieces functioned as a visual synopsis of the science and art of anatomy, a place where artists could playfully represent the poetics of dissection. They typically featured skeletons, cadavers, famous physicians and mythical figures, placed in anatomical theaters and arcadian landscapes, amidst dissecting tables, bones, classical architecture, floating symbols and text. The frontispiece was the last refuge of fantasy in scientific anatomy. In the mid-1700s anatomists began to drop them, but the frontispiece continued on in art anatomies and popular scientific books.

Three Dutch anatomists, wearing black clothes with white collars, pose sitting around a table which has on it a dissected cadaver. Cropped from Giulio Casserio, Anatomische Tafeln... (Frankfurt, 1656). Copperplate engraving.
An imaginary dissection scene of antiquity: Attended by students, Hippocrates stands before a cadaver undergoing dissection outdoors on a pile of rocks underneath a natural rock formation in the shape of an arch. Cropped from Floriano Caldani, Tabulae anatomical ligamentorum corporus humani... (Venice, 1803). Copperplate engraving. Artist: Cajetano Bosa
An anatomist lectures in a classroom before a partly dissected body propped up on a stand and suspended by his hand from a rope. Cropped from Francesco Bertinatti, Elementi di anatomia fisiologica applicata alle belle arti figurative (Turin, 1837-39). Lithograph.



Dissection Scenes and Fancies
Next Section:Dreaming Art Anatomy
The People's Anatomy
Dreaming the Industrial Body
Reuniting the Divided Self
Visible Human

A Dutch anatomist sits in front of a cadaver standing on a pedestal with his skin taken off his body and incisions in his groin. Cropped from Giulio Casserio, Anatomische Tafeln... (Frankfurt, 1656). Copperplate engraving.