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Anatomie des Menschen: Wenn Medizin zur Kunst wird - Animus Medicus GmbH

Human Anatomy: When Medicine Becomes Art


Anatomy and human beings are inextricably linked. Forms and structures form fascinating images both individually and as a whole. Known as a demanding part of the study by prospective physicians, human anatomy has an unmistakable, artistic character. Ever since Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" became a popular accessory on walls, it has been clear: anatomy, man and art form a stylish triad.




Leonardo da Vinci shaped the artistic claim to the connection between medicine and human anatomy like no other. In his estate, historians found thousands of notes and documents with anatomical drawings. Against this background, it is downright regrettable that only the "people in a circle" mentioned at the beginning have managed to achieve real popularity.


Human anatomy as an art form


Medicine - especially anatomy - and art are inextricably linked. Even the art of antiquity revolved almost exclusively around human anatomy. Painting came later. Artists studied physiognomy and shape in order to implement them in their works. Doctors could use these works to explain anatomical structures and provide scientific background information.

Anyone who wanted to be recognized as a realistic artist could not avoid studying human anatomy independently. Before he could create creatively, he first had to become a keen observer. On the other hand, doctors who wanted to understand human anatomy usually sought out an artist.

In what other way would it have been possible to study human anatomy? In the Christian West, dissections of the human body were forbidden for a very long time. Artists, as clandestine anatomists and with their lively, precise representations, replaced learning from the dead subject.


Human Anatomy - Cursus Anatomicus



Thinking outside the box




The works and sculptures of old times served medical students as study objects for a long time. They brought them closer to human anatomy and replaced the reality of the dead body.

The connection between art and human anatomy was also shown in another historical fact. Did you know that studying medicine was even more extensive in earlier times? Aside from the compulsory courses on human anatomy, students had to take part in certain lectures in philosophical or cultural-historical subjects. This seems surprising at first glance.

But the understanding of art, philosophy and culture was a real and additional benefit for learning human anatomy and later working as a doctor. Unfortunately, this valuable view of the bigger picture has been lost in today's studies.



"Theatre" as centers of anatomical teaching


Art came alive on people no later than the 16th and 17th centuries. "Anatomical theaters" were created in Amsterdam, Basel, Paris and Padua. Incidentally, there was a first precursor at the end of the 14th century at the University of Heidelberg. Anatomical theaters were the forerunners of the lecture halls you know. Around a central location with the table for sections, seats were grouped in the form of a grandstand with an unobstructed view of what was happening. Human anatomy should be taught to students up close and emotionally.



The human anatomy reference book


All this resulted in study objects on human anatomy in the form of atlases or pictorial representations. You know the situation in the specialist bookstore: Nowadays, there is a wide range of books on human anatomy.

When deciding for or against a book, faithfulness to the detail within the illustrations will certainly play the most important role for you. Understandable, because the nomenclature of human anatomy is unchangeable. You learn it, it has been valid for centuries and is not rewritten. But presented differently.

One of the modern pioneers in depicting human anatomy is Johannes Sobotta. You've probably heard this name before. With the drawings on human anatomy, he created a book of high quality that is still in demand today. Maybe you are already learning with it. Sobotta's "Atlas der Anatomy" consists of several volumes and is considered the standard work of medicine in study and practice.

The two draftsmen Karl Hajek and Erich Lepier were responsible for the illustrations. The reality of muscles, tissues, bones, joints and organs, perfectly prepared in dissections, was transferred to paper. The sketches were three-dimensional, colour-coordinated and perfect down to the smallest detail.

The "Michelangelo of Medicine"

The name Frank Netter should not be missing from the list of detailed representations of human anatomy. The American doctor and anatomist is often referred to as the "Michelangelo of Medicine" because of his anatomical drawings.

Initially, Netter worked as an illustrator for a pharmaceutical company. When more and more medical colleagues became aware of the quality of his pictures, the decision was made to publish them as a book. The first edition of the Netter atlas on human anatomy was published in 1948. It was not until 1989 that Netter's recognized and award-winning "Atlas of Human Anatomy" was published, for which he was honored several times and received numerous honorary doctorates.



Human anatomy as a work of art


What is a valuable duty for students and doctors as art on the shelf about human anatomy can become an impressive freestyle as art on the wall. Images that impressively depict human anatomy in all its facets are not only fascinating, they are understated.

The selection is large, every department is represented. Anatomical representations are timeless. They connect the history and future of human anatomy and medicine. And they create a unique bridge between human anatomy and art.


At Cursus Anatomicus you will find everything:



    • The human anatomy and the various organs, bones and muscles

    • Medical drawings with correct nomenclature, perfect for learning and explaining

    • Unique vintage anatomy posters for office and home decor



Now look at all the pictures of human anatomy .