Early Medical illustrative history: Style of illustrations

I have discovered an amazing video that helped me immensely with my research! Benjamin Mandel MD talkes about the medical illustrative history from Antiquity to the famous Max Brodel. The video taught me quite a bit about the style of medical illustration and how it has changed over the years. Starting with the 13th century illustrations, here is  a photo I found on Wikipedia. Image result for medical illustration from antiquity images like this one (showing the veins in the body) typically have religious scripture attached to it. This image was found in a Medieval or Renaissance manuscript, and it originated in England. The problem stylistically is that this illustration is hard to read. I don’t mean in the sense that it is in Latin, and that it is small print, I mean that there is too much going on here. It would be difficult to use this illustration to find these veins when there is no context as to where they would be in relation to the rest of the internal organs. The abilities did get better, like in this photo of the wounded man. Image result for the wounded man The wounded man was taken from a field study on The Method of Curing Wounds made by Gun-Shot. It was used to demonstrate wounds in surgical texts throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century. It was originally printed in Johannes de Ketham’sFasciculus Medicinae (Venice, 1491). The problem with this full body style is the lack of detail in the actual body parts that are damaged.  Another problem with the full body style is that they often propped the subject up on a stool, and the subject (thank god) was dead and very stiff. This image is by Hans von Gersdorff, from the field book of surgery and is showing the points for blood letting. File:Gersdorff Feldbuch s16.jpg It wasn’t until Magnus Hundt of Leipzig Germany Image result for magnus hundt illustrations And German engraver Hans Wachtlin, who’s images are difficult to find.  Why these illustrations worked was the break down of the figure. The close up of the organs allowed for more detail and a better understanding of its context within the body. Stay tuned for more next week in the break down of Medical illustration history!
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2 thoughts on “Early Medical illustrative history: Style of illustrations”

  1. Oh my gosh these images are incredible (remember to use captions to add clear citations for them). Such a fine line between art and education and cultural commentary… I imagine what we learn from medical illustration about a period/region’s perceptions of race and ethnicity must be really illuminating (thought of that while looking at the “Wounded Man,” which reminds me of early sketches of native American people by British colonial illustrators in the “new world.” Love learning about this!

  2. I love that you’re able to see these images through both an artists lens, critiquing and talking about composition, and still being able to see these images clearly through a medical way. I learn so much through your posts and am so intrigued (and jealous) of your program!

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