Anatomy and Art Theory in Washington

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 8, 2010

The Body Inside and Out: Anatomical Literature and Art Theory
Selections from the National Gallery of Art Library
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., July 24, 2010 — January 23, 2011

A PDF file of the exhibition brochure is available for download (click on the link at the left)

The humanist movement of the Renaissance introduced new realms of possibility in the arts and the sciences, including the study of anatomy. Many artists witnessed or participated in dissections to gain a better understanding of the proportions and systems of the body. Artists and physicians also worked together and formed partnerships—Leonardo and Marcantonio della Torre, Michelangelo and Realdo Columbo, and perhaps most famously, Titian and Andreas Vesalius—where the artist’s renderings of the anatomist’s findings were reproduced and dispersed to a scattered audience through the relatively recent innovation of print.

This exhibition, featuring outstanding examples of anatomy-related material from the collection of rare books in the National Gallery of Art Library, offers a glimpse into the ways anatomical studies were made available to and used by artists from the 16th to the early 19th century. On view are detailed treatises on human proportion and beauty by artists and scholars including Albrecht Dürer and Juan de Arfe y Villafane; drawing and painting manuals by Leonardo, Jean Cousin, and others, which include chapters on proportion and anatomy; and adaptations of anatomical treatises tailored to the needs of working artists by Roger de Piles and Johann Daniel Preissler, among others.

The exhibition brochure is available here»