Title: De Coporis Humani Fabrica...(On the Fabric of the Human Body)
Dimensions: Sheet (text): 17 1/4 × 11 1/8 inches (43.8 × 28.3 cm);
Sheet (image): 17 1/8 × 10 3/8 inches (43.5 × 26.4 cm)
Gift of Barbara Loreto Peltz, Class of 1955, and Dr. Leon Peltz, Class of 1954
Object Number: 2010.012.015 a,b
Professor, anatomist, and theorist Andreas Vesalius penned what is often thought of as the first modern medical text. Before De Humani Corporis Fabrica, medical students relied on the writings of the ancient Greek physician Galen, which conjectured how the human body worked based on the dissection of animals. Though Vesalius attempted to correct his classical predecessor’s anatomical inaccuracies by proudly using human cadavers as models, the author and his illustrator (who remains anonymous, though was probably a student of Titian) relied on the art of Galen’s time to relay these new findings to a wider audience. Vesalius, an avid classicist, used Greco-Roman sculptures to inspire poses for his revivified anatomical subjects. Here, the model takes the form of an écorché, a body with skin removed in service to studying the muscular system. Vesalius stands his model in the Greco-Roman contrapposto pose with one knee bent, which serves as more than a classical quotation: the pose provides Vesalius with the opportunity to illustrate how the leg muscles behave when relaxed, as viewed on the right side, working in direct contrast with the left leg’s tensed buttock and calf. Vesalius places his écorché facing a sixteenth-century city skyline, which contextualizes the classically inspired illustration within a contemporary time and place. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.