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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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A realistically rendered view of a dissected woman’s back. Her hands are tied together. From Govard Bidloo, Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams... (Amsterdam, 1690). Copperplate engraving with etching. Artist: Gérard de Lairesse.

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Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams...

Amsterdam, 1690. Copperplate engraving with etching. National Library of Medicine.

Govard Bidloo

Gérard de Lairesse

This stark dissection—with ragged flesh fully displayed and hands bound with a cord—signals a commitment to a higher level of realism. To our eyes, the picture may suggest a distressing indifference to, or even pleasure in, human suffering.

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