Thursday, February 15, 2007

Learning Anatomy the Hard Way

This story on a late 18th/early 19th English surgeon who reputedly benefited from a team of grave robbers caught my eye and made me think again of how dangerous it was to study anatomy before anyone had a good notion of germ theory or antibiotics on hand.

But doctors weren't the only ones risking their health to study anatomy. Veterinarians and artists who made studies of animal anatomy often did so at their peril. If you've read the most recent issue of Bark Magazine, which has several great articles in it, you may have also seen the one about artist George Stubbs (1724-1806), whose paintings (like the one above) of animals broke new ground in part because he was an avid student of human and animal anatomy — he taught at a school of medicine at one point, and published works on anatomy.

If you are anywhere near the Frick in New York, take the opportunity to see a special exhibit of his work. It's only there between now and May 27, and this is its only stop in the U.S..

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