Synagoga's Blindfold: Its Symbolism

Synagoga: Venerable yet Vulnerable

The Symbolism of Synagoga's Blindfold

• Synagoga is blinfolded, not to see the Messiah.[1]

• In pre-humanist tradition, the blindfold signified a disability.[¿]

• The female figure of blindfolded Synagoga, which adorned many late medieval churches, was a visible and public testimony and reminder of the failure of the Jews to recognize their Messiah. With a veil or blindfold covering her eyes, and sometimes holding a broken standard which served as a contrast to the victorious Ecclesia, Synagoga was a permanent sign of Jewish blindness and stubborness, which had led Jews to murder their unrecognised saviour.[?]

• Synagoga is blinfolded, as Jews refuse to see that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and so that Judaism has become obsolete.[+]

• The blindfold represents moral or spiritual blindness or darkness, sin, and ignorance.[2]

• Covered eyes once had negative connotations. A blindfolded and bent figure, Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, denoted that Judaism was blind to the light of Christianity.[3]

• Synagoga is blindfolded, symbolizing the blindfold her blindness to the truth of the New Testament.[4]

• The blindfold symbolizes exclusion, for the Jews had rejected the Messiah and medieval Christian culture held the Jews irredeemably responsible for killing Christ.[5]

• Synagoga is blindfolded, because she has not yet recognized the revelation of Jesus Christ.[6]

1. Shalom Sabar, Jerusalem, March 2013 (StudyBlue).
¿. Also Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 63.

?. Brian P. Levack, Demonology, Religion, and Witchcraft: New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic, and Demonology (2002), Routledge, 2013, p. 181 and n. 96, where he refers to Gertrud Schiller, Ikonograhie der christlichen Kunst, 4 vols., Gütersloh, 1976, vol. 4, pt. 1, pp. 45-56, 242-55.
+. Cf. Nina Rowe, The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge UP, 2014.
2. Mary Ann Sullivan, Ecclesia et Synagoga, Bluffton University, Ohio: "Church and Synagogue were common allegorical figures in the Middle Ages. Draped females, they are ways of representing the transition from the Old Law to the New. Church typically wears a crown, carries a cross, and holds a chalice, representing the Redeemer's blood. Synagogue is always a blindfolded figure, the blindfold representing moral or spiritual blindness or darkness, sin, and ignorance. Often a crown falls from the inclined head of Synagogue and the Tables of the Law fall from her hands."
3. Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, From Fool’s Blindfold to the Veil of Ignorance, Yale Law Report, Winter 2011, pp. 14-15: "Covered eyes once had negative connotations. A blindfolded and bent figure, Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, denoted that Judaism was blind to the light of Christianity. Ecclesia, the New Testament, was ramrod straight and clear-eyed." In addition, "Lady Justice’s familiar blindfold did not become an accessory until well into the 17th century. And even then it was uncommon because of the profoundly negative connotations blindfolds carried for medieval and Renaissance audiences, who viewed them as emblems not of impartiality but of deception [...]. Sight was the desired state, Professors Resnik and Curtis write, connected to insight, light and the rays of God’s sun" (Randy Kennedy, Yale Law Professors Fix their Eyes on Blind Lady Justice: That Lady With the Scales Poses for Her Portraits, The New York Times, 15 December 2010).

"Christianity embraced "sol justitiae"--Christ--as the god of Light, who will appear ablaze when he will judge mankind. Medieval Europe saw depictions of the Virtue Charity holding a torch to denote the light of God" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 64).

"Like many other symbols, blindfolds were demostrably polysemic, which is to say that their import changed over time and place" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62).

"what today we call a blindfold, [...] in earlier centuries was sometimes termed a 'bandage'" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62).

Not always the blindfold was intended to be read unambiguously. See, for instance, Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62.

"for Medieval and Renaissance audiences, the blindfold was laden with negative connotations". Ibid.

"in the context of the dominant pre-humanist tradition[, ...] the blindfolded signified a disability". Ibid., p. 63

"The idea that sightlessness is problematic, and sometimes unequivocally bad, can be found throughout the [ancient Western] cultures and literatures [...]. Such imagery is predicated on classical and biblical texts that repeatedly cast light as representing light and darkness as misguidedness. The parallel was that the sighted were informed and the blind limited. As either fact or metaphor, blindness signified a variety of deficits. Blindness is not the equivalent of the willful act of being blindfolded. Yet, the rare mentions in biblical texts of blindfolded persons make it plain that they were disadvanteged.{16} [...] To be struck blind was [...] a form of punishment imposed by God.{18} [... W]hen humans punish each other, they sometimes put blindfolds on their victims.{19} [...] Metaphorically, blindness exemplified ignorance or abandonment [...] and impared judgment"{22} (Ibid., p. 64).

p. 428
{16} In some English versions [of the biblical texts] reference is made to "bandaged" or "veiled" eyes. In several Ripa editions the terms "blindfold" and "bandaged" are used interchangeably. However, the word bandages is today associated with wounds, while a blindfold is presumed to be obstricting vision.
{18} Job 18:20 - "Blindness will fall on the wicked."
{19} Jesus himself was made sport of--blindfolded, beaten, and mocked (Mark 16:65; Luke 22:63-64).

Isaiah proclaims, "The prophets should be the eyes of the people, but God has blindfolded them" (Isaiah 29:34 in The Goods News Bible with Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha, Today's English Version, New York: American Bible Society, 1976; the term was translated in earlier versions as "hath he covered;" Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, pp. 65 and p. 428, n. 34).

"biblical lessons became fixtures in Medieval and Renaissance literature and art, which reiterated that bandaged, covered, or blindfolded eyes--as well as those who were physically blind--signified profound limitations." (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 65).

More generally, the physically blind were portrayed as objects of pity in need of charity. Alternatively, by the Middle Ages, blind personifications were sometimes 'endowed with terrifying power'"{39} (Ibid., p. 65).

p. 428
{39} Moshe Barasch, Blindness: The History of a Mental Image in Western Thought, New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 78

p. 65 - Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 65, excerpt from chap. 4: "On Eyes and Ostriches"

Synagoga: Blind to the "Light" of Christianity
Two female figures--Synagoga and Ecclesia--and the iconography and literature that surrounded them inscribed blindness as liability. Synagoga, 'a purely Christian creation', was deployed to signify the Old Testament and, sometimes, Jews in general.{42} Ecclesia stood for the New Testament and, at times, Christianity. These two were familiar fixtures in Medieval Europe, to be found 'on ivory tablets, in stained-glass windows, on church implements, in manuscript miniatures, and in monumental statuary'.{43}

[Such pairs can be found at Strasbourg, Rheims, Bordeaux, Paris, Bamberg, Magdeburg, Worms, Lincoln, Salisbury, and Canterbury.]

The variation in depictions of Synagoga reflect the complexity of relations between Christianity and Judaism. Because the Old Testament is an important source for New Testament traditions, some versions of Synagoga have a measure of dignity, acknowledging that the New Covenant built on as well as (from the vantage point of Christianity) rose above the Old Covenant. [... In some cases,] Synagoga is almost the same height as Ecclesia. But unlike that ramrod-straight, crowned, sharp-eyed, regal woman (the "bride of Christ"), Synagoga is a fallen queen, shown slumped with her rod broken and her eyes covered by a blindfold.{50} Their hierarchical relationship is plain.{51}
Among Synagoga's attributes, the blindfold was her 'principal motif,' demonstrating that she was blind to the "light" of Christianity.{{52}} Yet, the bandage around her eyes suggested that her fault could have been remedied. Synagoga was not blind but blindfolded--willfully obstinant, refusing (rather than unable) to comprehend the "light of redemption."{{53}} Other versions of synagogue were more aggressively hostile, reflecting antagonism toward Jews and the spread of anti-Semitism.{{54}} In those iterations is not only blindfolded but also made to look demonic--shown with a serpent wrapped around her head, on a donkey, holding a goat's head (denoting lust) or disheveled [...].

p. 428
{42}. Michael Camille, The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art, Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge UP, 1991, p. 178.
{43}. Wolfgang S. Seiferth, Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages: Two Symbols in Art and Literature, New York: Frederick Ungar, 1970, p. 96. See also Margaret Schauch, "The Allegory of Church and Synagogue," Speculum 14, 1939, 449. Beginning some time in the early Middle Ages, both the "New Law" and the "Old Law" were depicted through female figures, but they did not frequently appear paired in an apparent confrontation until some time in the eleventh century (Ruth Mellinkoff, "Three Mysterious Ladies Unmasked," Jewish Art 14-15, Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University, 1984, p. 10).
p. 429
{50}. Seiferth, Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages, p. 32. Synagoga is "the antithesis of the Church. While Ecclesia's luxuriant robe provides stability, Synagoga's diaphanous drapery falls in a tangle around her ankles" (Nina Rowe, "Idealization and Subjection at the South Portal of Strasbourg Cathedral," in Beyond the Yellow Badge: Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Medieval an Early Modern Visual Culture, ed. M.B. Merback, Leiden: Brill, 2008, p. 180).
{51}. Rowe put the imagery in the context of the era in which "keeping the Jews in their place was a central component of keeping order more generally" (Idealization and Subjection, p. 182).
{52}. Seiferth, p. 29. For example, Giotto showed Synagoga turning her head left toward darkness and away from the "light that is Christ in the Gospel of John" (Laurine Mack Bongiorno, "The theme of the old and New Law in the Arena Chapel," Art Bulletin 11, 1968, 13-14). According to Moshe Barasch, in the thirteenth century, Albert the Great mandated a description that added the blindfold in lieu of shaded or otherwise obscured or darkened eyes (Barasch Blindness, p. 86). {58} For the more literate, "bibles moralisées" also displayed images of Synagoga, blinded to Christianity´s light. See Katherine H. Tachau, "God's Compass and Vana Curiositas: Scientific Study in the Old French Bible Moralisée," Art Bulletin 7, 1998, pp. 12-19.
{53}. Barasch, Blindness, pp. 79, 83.

p. 429, n. 52. The Prado collection [...] includes an [...] example of Synagoga shown as a man. In the 1430 painting The Fountain of Grace and The Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue [...], on the bottom, are a group identified as Jews, who, with unkempt clothing and in distress, are contrasted with the well-dressed, calm assembly of the Church on the opposite side. Among the Jews is one man--Synagoga--shown bent over, blindfolded, and wearing a large pointed hat. The cluster of "defeated Jews" resembles those in other such renditions. See Josua Bruyn, "A Puzzling Picture at Oberlin: The Fountain of Life," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 5, 1958, 7.

Judith Resnik and Dennis Edward Curtis, [http://documents.law.yale.edu/representing-justice">Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms], New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, [https://books.google.com.ar/books?id=yzD1z7i8Md4C&lpg=PA429&ots=ppgTjrNfOe&dq=fountain%20grace&pg=PA429#v=onepage&q&f=true p. 429, n. 54].

4. Ecclesia and Synagoga were the names given to the symbolic personification in medieval Christian art of Christianity's triumph over Judaism. This early type of anti-Jewish propaganda, which first appeared in the 11th century, was common decoration in the sculptures, paintings and stained-glass windows of churches and cathedrals, and in the decorations and bindings of Bibles and prayer books.
A pair of female statues decorated many Gothic cathedrals and churches (usually outside the building) in Europe, especially in France, England and Germany. Ecclesia, representing the victorious, triumphant Church, takes the form of a proud, erect maiden, crowned and holding the cross. Synagoga, symbolizing the defeated Synagogue, is blindfolded (symbolizing the blindfold her blindness to the truth of the New Testament) and dejected, and her characteristic appurtenances are a broken staff, broken tablets of the Law (symbolizing the Old Testament), and a fallen crown.
The best known statues of this type are on the exterior of the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Bamberg. They are also found in Rheims, Paris and Bordeaux. In England, they figure (generally in mutilated condition) in churches in Rochester, Lincoln, Salisbury and Winchester.
Ill. Synagoga statue which stood in front of the Liebrauen Church, Trier, Germany (built c.1250); it presently stands in the Bischoefliches Museum in Trier. Synagoga is blindfolded, holds a broken staff and overturned tablets, and her crown is fallen. Statues at the church of St. Severin, Bordeaux, 1264. While Ecclesia stands erect and crowned, Synagoga is blindfolded (a serpent covering her eyes), and the fallen crown lies at her feet (Jewish Heritage Online Magazine: Ecclesia, Synagoga and the Fallen Crown).
5. Jonathan Durrant, Shifting Perspectives, University of South Wales, July 2011.
6. The two female figures on the south portal of the Strasbourg Cathedral allegorically represent Christianity and Judaism. In Medieval iconography they were usually shown as engaged in a dispute in which Synagoga, the personification of Judaism, was the inferior and was shown vanquished. Most unusually, however, the figures at Strasbourg turn toward each other and toward the central figure of the double portal, Solomon. Thus the conflict is reinterpreted and given a conciliatory outcome.
The figure of Ecclesia, standing almost stiffly upright, wears a crown. The cross and chalice are replacements, but these attributes seem insignificant compared with the figure's majestic appearance. She turns to speak her final words to Synagoga, while the latter, already turning toward her opponent, will maintain her attitude of rejection only for a few moments more. She still holds the broken staff and the Tablets of the Law, and turns away, blindfolded, because she has not yet recognized the revelation of Jesus Christ (Emil Krén and Daniel Marx: Web Gallery of Art).


Greg Killian remarks on the term Synagogue.

Ms. Typ 120, four of six leaves known to be extant,

Missal, Noyon, c. 1240-1250. Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms. Typ 120. A folio illustrates the Canon (the prayer of consecration said at every Mass and usually the most elaborately decorated portion of an illuminated Missal). In addition to a large ornamental initial for the Preface, a second historiated initial shows the paired figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga flanking the Agnus dei, the Lamb of God. Synagogue, representing the Jews, is blindfolded, unable to see the "truth" of Christian revelation. Ecclesia captures the blood of the sacrificial lamb in her chalice, both mirroring and modeling the activity of the priest at the altar (Books in Books).

• Bute Master, Initial N: God Removing Synagoga's Blindfold, Bute Psalter, Northeastern France, 1270-80. Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment. Getty, Ms 46, fol 104v. Ref. Bute Psalter. Probably made for a noblewoman in the late 1200s, the Bute Psalter is a small prayer book containing all 150 psalms. A number of other additional texts illuminated by an anonymous Parisian painter were added in the mid-1300s. The manuscript's name derives from that of a previous owner, the Marquess of Bute.
A talented and important artist, known as the Bute Master for his work in this book, created the illuminations for the portion of the manuscript dating from the 1200s. He painted 190 historiated initials and numerous marginal drolleries. Instead of giving precedence to the eight major divisions of the psalms as was customary, he devoted a figural scene to every psalm. Furthermore, the illuminations display distinctive, original iconography that may reflect the patron's wishes.

• Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.


Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law, September-December 2011.

The shifting attributes of Justice reflect the complex relationships between judgment, sight, knowledge, and wisdom. In the 1400s and 1500s, a blindfold on Justice signified her disability; today the blindfold is commonly understood as a sign of justice’s impartiality (i.e., a sign of law’s particular obligation to reason within confined parameters and of justice’s impartiality and disinterest).

The Fool Blindfolding Justice is a woodcut from Sebastian Brant’s Stultifera navis mortalium (Ship of Fools, Basel, 1497), sometimes attributed to Albrecht Dürer. The 1509 London edition offers a scene known to be one of the earliest known to show a Justice with covered eyes. The deployment is derisive, evident not only from the fool but from the chapter that the illustration accompanied, which was entitled “Quarreling and Going to Court.” Brant, a noted lawyer and law professor, prefaced the book with a warning against “folly, blindness, error, and stupidity of all stations and kinds of men.” The 1572 version is all the more insistently negative; in this rendition, the fool has pushed Justice off her throne as he covers her eyes.

Addendum 1. De litigantibus in iudicio (Of conflicts in trial), woodcut, c. 1568-72. A fool blindfolding a seated figure of Justice; illustration to a Latin edition of Sebastian Brant's 'Ship of Fools', probably that printed by Petri in Basel in 1572. London, British Museum, E,7.332

The Tribunal of Fools. “The Fool Blindfolding Justice” was not the only image of that era deploying a blindfold as a warning against judicial error, as can be seen from the 1508 edition of an illustrated volume, Die Bambergische Halsgerichtsordnung. The volume, setting forth the criminal law and municipal ordinances of the city of Bamberg, included some twenty woodcuts.
In the woodcut called “The Tribunal of Fools,” a presiding judge (marked by his rod of office, the collar of his robe, and his place of honor on the throne) sits with his four colleagues. All are blindfolded and wear jesters’ caps. The legend on the scroll above their heads reads: “Out of bad habit these blind fools spend their lives passing judgments contrary to what is right.” Once again blindness is equated with error. Blindfolds could also be found on other readily recognized Renaissance icons — Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, was bent and blindfolded (blind to the “light” of Christianity), while Ecclesia, standing ramrod straight and clear-eyed, embodied the New Testament. Similarly, Fortuna, and Eros were also shown blindfolded, exemplifying that the loss of sight leads one astray.

Ripa’s Iconologia. Two codifiers of Renaissance iconography, Cesare Ripa and Andrea Alciati, generated compendia of icons and emblems, replayed by didactic invocations in art and literature, in politics and theology, and in popular pastimes from tarot cards to the satirical press. Through these multiple forms, a host of Virtues and Vices became part of the common visual vocabulary in Europe.
Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia marks the beginning of a shift in the meaning attributed to the blindfold. First published, without any pictures, in Rome in 1593, it was printed with images in 1603 and regularly thereafter, appearing in more than forty editions in eight languages.
Ripa detailed various kinds of Justice, each with her own set of attributes. One was Divine Justice (“Giustitia Divina”) and the other six were variations on “Worldly” Justice. All were clear-sighted but one, and sight itself was specifically admired in the descriptions of various Justices. For example, Ripa’s “Justice According to Aulus Gellius” — from the Padua Ripa of 1625 — is said to have “piercing eyes”.
The sole version Ripa described as blindfolded was called Justice (or sometimes Earthly Justice). As a 1611 edition explained: "This is the type of Justice that is exercised in the Tribunal of judges and secular executors. She is wearing white because judges should be without the stain of personal interest or of any other passion that might pervert Justice, and this is also why her eyes are bandaged — and thus she cannot see anything that might cause her to judge in a manner that is against reason." Thus, the blindfold is a marker of the obligation that Justice not be tempted away from using reason.
Where might Ripa have gotten the blindfold? One possible source is Andrea Alciati’s 1531 treatise, Emblemata, an anthology of moralizing epigrams to which his publisher added illustrations, was reproduced in some 150 editions. One of the “emblems” (a term he coined) is titled “The good Prince in his Council.” The central figure is wearing a bandage obscuring his eyes, and his colleagues lack hands. Both Ripa and Alciati likely knew the “Egyptian” allegory “transmitted by Plutarch and Diodorus Sicilus in which the chief justice was shown eyeless in order to illustrate his impartiality, while his colleagues had no hands with which to take bribes.”

Addendum 2. Karl Ferdinand Hommel, De iure arlequinizante : Oratijo in Academia Lipsiensi cvm ivris vtrivsqve doctorem inavgvraret habita, Lübeck, 1761.

Representing Justice. By mapping the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and by tracing the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—the authors explore the evolution of adjudication into its modern form as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy.

Chapter Four: Of Eyes and Ostriches

"Although the blindfold has come to be valorized, it was once seen—as cartoonists often use it today — to denote a disabled Justice, blind to or hiding from the truth."

Blind to the Light and Blindfolded by the Fool
The Blindfolded Justice in the Amsterdam Tribunal
"Open the eyes that are blind"
Synagoga: Blind to the "Light" of Christianity
Justice and Judges as Fools
Alciatus's Theban Judges and Ripa's Injunctions: "A Steely Gaze," the Eye of the God, and Bandaged Eyes.

Additional Resources
• Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church replaced Israel?, B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
• Nina Rowe, The Jew, The Cathedral, and Medieval City, Cambridge UP, Apr 4, 2011.
• Pamela Ann Patton, Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain, Penn State Press, 2012, chap. 3: "Shaping the Jewish Body in Medieval Iberia".
• Sara Lipton, Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014 (AM).
• Sara Lipton, The Invention of the Jewish Nose, The New York Review of Books, 14 November 2014.


Shabbat ha-Shabbatot

Börries von Münchhausen + Ephraim M. Lilien
"Der Sabbath der Sabbathe"
Berlin, 1900

Der Sabbath der Sabbathe.

Sei still Judäa und schweige, du Tochter des Sem!
Höre, was dir sage:
Es nahet der Tag der Tage
Nach Streben und Sterben und Streit,
Nach Lieben und Lehren und Leid
Nahet die Ernte der Saat:
Der Sabbath der Sabbathe naht!

Sei still Judäa und schweige, du Tochter des Sem!
Hänge dein Hoffen ans Später,
Traue dem Gotte der Väter:
Aus Zeiten voll Schande und Spott
Führt dich dein heiliger Gott
Mit unerforschlichem Rat!
Der Sabbath der Sabbathe naht!

Shabbat of Shabbats

Still and silent be Judea, daughter of Shem.
Listen to what you say:
Approaching is the day of days,
After efforts and death and strife,
After loving and learning and suffering,
Drawing near to the grain harvest:
The shabbat of shabbats approaches.

Still and silent be Judea, daughter of Shem.
To hang your hope on later times,
Trust the God of your fathers:
From times of shame and ridicule
Leads you your Holy God,
With impenetrable resolution:
The shabbat of shabbats approaches.

El sábado de los sábados

Calma y silenciosa sea Judea, hija de Sem.
Escuche lo que dice:
Se aproxima el día de los días,
Tras esfuerzos y muerte y lucha,
Tras amor y aprendizaje y sufrimiento,
Arrimándose a la cosecha del cereal:
El sábado de los sábados se aproxima.

Calma y silenciosa sea Judea, hija de Sem.
Para preservar su esperanza en tiempo próximo,
Confíe en el Dios de sus padres:
De tiempos de vergüenza y ridículo
Le conduce su Santo Dios,
Con resolución impenetrable:
El sábado de los sábados se aproxima.

O sábado dos sábados

Calma e tranquila seja a Judéia, filha de Sem.
Ouça o que diz:
Aproximando-se está o dia dos dias,
Após esforços e morte e luta,
Depois amar e de aprender e sofrir,
Perto da colheita da safra:
O sábado dos sábados se aproxima.

Calma e tranquila seja a Judéia, filha de Sem.
Para preservar a sua esperança nos próximos tempos,
Confie no Deus de seus pais;
Desde tempos de vergonha e ridículo
Leva-lhe o seu Santo Deus,
com resolução impenetrável:
O sábado dos sábados se aproxima.


Ref. Gedicht - Poem - Poema. Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar; it is also referred to as "Shabbat Ha'Shabbatot" (the Sabbath of the Sabbaths).


« Strasbourg »

Extrait d'un poème de P. Claudel; via Théâme

Paul Claudel (1868-1955), « Strasbourg », poème, 1913 (Corona benignitatis anni dei, 1915). Dans une conférence de 1915, son auteur précisait à propos de ce poème : « Il fut écrit à la suite d’un voyage que je fis en 1913 dans cette ville infortunée et se trouve tout imprégné du grand sentiment de tristesse que j’en avais rapporté. Sous l’image des statues célèbres, « la Synagogue et l’Eglise » qui ornent le portail du Sud, j’ai voulu opposer à la conseillère des nostalgies et des regrets inutiles la personnification du courage lucide qui se mesure avec le devoir immédiat et présent.»

Les deux portes méridionales de la cathédrale de Strasbourg, c. 1230



Dangereuse Nymphe d’autrefois ! ah, qu’on lui bande les yeux,

Qu’on l’attache fortement à la porte du Saint-Lieu,

Comme cette figure sur le porche latéral qu’on appelle la Synagogue ! [1]

Ah, qu’on lui rompe son long dard pour notre perte analogue

A l’aiguillon même de la mort dont l’Apôtre nous a parlé,

La grande femme folle et vague avec son visage de fée,

Plus vaine que l’eau qui fuit, plus que le Rhin flexueuse,

Elle ne laisse point tomber son arme tortueuse,

Et montre, les yeux bandés, sa charte où il n’y a rien écrit.

Mais de l’autre côté de la Porte est debout avec mépris,

Sans relâche la tenant sous ses yeux froids qui sont faits pour voir,

L’Eglise sans aucuns rêves qui ne pense qu’à son devoir,

L’Eglise qui est appuyée sur la croix et non ce jonc illusoire,

Héritière des jours passés, forte maîtresse d’aujourd’hui :

Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui.[5]


Moins tu nous laisses d’avenir, plus le passé fut cruel,

Plus grande en nous la douceur amère des choses réelles !

1. « L’une, me dit-on, est l’Eglise, l’autre la Synagogue, mais pourquoi ne me serait-il pas permis de voir en l’une la Foi et dans l’autre l’Imagination ? » (P. Claudel, L’Œil écoute, chapitre consacré à la cathédrale de Strasbourg).
2. Claudel a déjà traduit littéralement dans le même recueil ce passage de l’hymne Pange lingua : « Le rite nouveau succède à l’antique document ».

Un grand merci à Théâme ("La cathédrale de Strasbourg dans deux poèmes français du XXe siècle", 20.5.2014).

Voir aussi: Évangile et Liberté


Regina Silveira

por Mariano Akerman

Oriunda de Porto Alegre y habiendo estudiado en el Instituto de Cultura Hispánica en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de Madrid en 1967, Regina Silveira es una importante artista emergente del hemisferio sur.

Silveira es conocida por la producción de un tipo arte que cuestiona las convenciones de la representación y que involucra comentarios a través del uso de la paradoja visual.

En To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle) considera hechos, lugares y peculiaridades de Latino-América.

Regina Silveira, To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle), recortes fotografiados e impresos sobre vinil montado sobre mousse, 1997. Cada pieza: 48.5 X 39.5 cm.

El trabajo de Silveira fue presentado en el Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires, Arte de Las Américas: El Ojo del Milenio, 1999; referencia) y en la 8ª Bienal del Mercosur (Puerto Alegre, 2011).

Se trata de un gran rompecabezas que tiene como referente a la realidad latinoamericana. Acerca del mismo hace algún tiempo se escribió: "La obra To be continued (Latin American Puzzle) de la brasileña Regina Silveira llama mucho la atención porque representa al continente en un rompecabezas que, lejísimos de construir una imagen bonita, construye la imagen del caos a base de eventos y personajes muy propios de cada país; y cada pieza, de cada imagen, de cada país es fundamental para unir a las demás piezas de un rompecabezas infinito que crece y crea nuestro continente" (La cultura de América Latina en una muestra en París, 3.4.2014).

Personalmente, tengo mis serias dudas de que cada una de las piezas de To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle) sea realmente fundamental e irreemplazables. No dudo que algunas posiblemente posean considerable importancia, pero, como veremos más adelante, no todas las piezas creadas por Silveira son de hecho imprescindibles para que ella articule su comentario visualmente.

La naturaleza propia del trabajo y el hecho que el mismo se titule "To Be Continued" (A ser continuado) dan entender que el rompecabezas latinoamericano se encuentra en construcción, que su armado aún no concluyó. Ello es perfectamente aplicable al estado actual de unión entre los latinoamericanos.

Formado por numerosas piezas que interactuan estando ya posicionadas en el orden apropiado, todo rompecabezas suele formar una todalidad unificada y consonate. No es ese el caso configurado por Silveira, donde si cada parte del rompecabezas se encuentra forma parte del todo articulado, pero sin que su contenido llegue a interactuar con las demás partes que forman el todo o de modo tal de generar una imagen de conjunto funcional y significativamente unificada.

El Rompecabezas latinoamericano presenta no uno sino múltiples aspectos, que son además políticos, socio-económicos, culturales y religiosos: monocromos ellos todos.

Cada una de las piezas del rompecabezas exhibe una figura icónica o imagen característica de alguno de los mencionados aspectos latinoamericanos. Las piezas indudablemente son todas representativas de la geografía, historia y cultura latinoamericanas.

Si bien configurda como una pieza a ser empleada en un rompecabezas, cada una de las imágenes elegidas por Silveira constituye de por sí una unidad autocontenida y autosuficiente, de modo tal que su unión con cualquier otra pieza del rompecabezas no puede sino ser meramente formal, dado que las piezas en cuestión son a veces compatibles en términos de forma, mas no logran generar ningún todo significativamente coherente (una vez que el rompecabezas se articula).

La relación entre las piezas es por consiguiente algo superficial: se unen, sí; pero sólo por su formato y temática general. Al considerarse la unión de todas las piezas que forman el Rompecabezas latinoamericano, dicha unión resulta ser débil y arbitraria. Porque cada pieza, por así decirlo, habla su propia lengua. Una lengua por pieza y sólo una. La resultante puede ser comparable con lo generado por los altaneros constructores de la Torre de Babel, cuyas lenguas Dios intencionalmente cambió con el fin de crear una enorme confusión entre ellos. En efecto, la Biblia explica que el fruto de su competitivo trabajo no fue otro que un orden caótico: algo que nunca llegó a estar ni siquiera cerca del Creador.

Similar es lo configurado por Silveira, quien a través de su obra insinúa claramente que, en el contexto latinoamericano, cada uno habla su propia lengua, o sea, puja por que aquello que le es propio sea escuchado e incluso prevalezca. Pero eso no significa que las otras partes comprendan el mensaje emitido por cualquiera de sus vecinas. Es ello lo que da lugar a dos inquietantes cuestiones: por un lado, y considerando el mismísimo título de la obra, el Rompecabezas latinoamericano no está aún acabado; por el otro, todo aquello que hasta ahora sí ha sido realizado resulta ser problemático y ello se da a partir del hecho de que las piezas no logran trabajar en conjuntamente para formar un todo coherente, sino que, dada su propia naturaleza (que es autocontenida y autosuficiente), sólo pueden llegar a hacerlo de un modo siempre cuestionable y poco satisfactorio.

Alguna vez Silveira ha dicho que su Rompecabezas involucra imágenes estereotipadas de Latinoamérica y, debido a ello, la obra trataría el punto de vista de un extranjero. Si bien el trabajo de Silveira se titula "A ser continuado...", no queda claro qué es lo que debería continuarse: ¿los preconceptos del gringo o la educación del mismo?

El montaje de Rompecabezas, como su autora oportunamente ha explicado, conduce inevitablemente a "narrativas abiertas y caóticas que mezclan diferentes geografías, épocas y culturas". Se trata entonces de "una obra (diría casi turística) que revela la precaria mirada del 'otro' extranjero, que apenas conoce, cuando mucho, estereotipos de nuestra cultura y 'paisajes'" (Silveira, citada por José Roca, en Guía de la 8ª Bienal Mercosur, "Geopoéticas", p. 62: "Regina Silveira"; versión online del ejemplar español, slide 32; versión portuguesa online, p. 62; 8 Bienal do Mercosul: Ensaios de geopoética, 2011, p. 248).

Dado que la obra de Silveira es multivalente, existen varias lecturas posibles. El Rompecabezas latinoamericano podría reflejar no pocos clichés que los latinoamericanos mismos identifican como propios.

La composición de Silveira no es siempre presentada del mismo modo, sino que la posición de las diferentes piezas varía en cada exhibición (es decir, el "rompecabezas ... nunca es armado de la misma manera. Cada nuevo montaje ... dará lugar a una nueva lectura de la historia"; Nathalie Kantt, Un paseo latino en París, La Nación, 24.1.2014). El conjunto presentado por Silveira es algo así como un registro enciclopédico bastante aleatorio. Mas es la artista quien ha escogido la imagen que lleva cada pieza y quien además articula, desarticula y rearticula el Rompecabezas una y otra vez.

A veces emplea 130 piezas, otras sólo 110.

Es decir, más allá de todo azar, la intervención de Silveira, y no aquella de ningún gringo, resulta crucial en las variadas configuraciones que el Rompecabezas latinoamericano pueda llegar a presentar. La selección de imágenes y su disposición en el todo articulado constituyen por lo tanto un asunto personal.

Según Silveira, la integración latinoamericana actual es estar juntos pero sin llegar a establecer ningún compromiso sustancial. El Rompecabezas latinoamericano es deliberadamente anti-gestálico: aquí el todo no es más que la suma de las partes. De hecho es menos. Y, en definitiva, acaso poco importe el contenido de cada pieza, ya que existen piezas literalmente negras que pueden verse articulando el rompecabezas pero sin otorgarle contenido ninguno al mismo. Son áreas que fueron censuradas o acaso hayan "desaparecido".

Sea como fuere, todas las partes que forman el Rompecabezas latinoamericano se hallan en condición de agregado. Debido a ello, en el trabajo en cuestión el todo integrado no es más que algo aparente. Conciente de ello o no, Silveira expresa que la integración latinoamericana es meramente epidérmica y que lo poco que sí ya ha sido construido, a pesar de presentar proporciones considerables, posee a su vez una cohesión no mayor que aquella de la bíblica Torre del Desencuentro, en Babel.

Dado que el título de la obra es originalmente expresado en lengua anglosajona, posible es suponer que, como sugiere Silveira, algún gringo, siguiendo sus propios preconceptos ante la realidad latinoamericana, haya sido el responsable de tamaña articulación. Mas es la brasilera autora de este trabajo quien concibió ella misma cada una de las piezas del Rompecabezas latinoamericano como autocontenida y autosuficiente, un extranjero no. Expresar algo en inglés, por otra parte, no implica automáticmente que quien se expresa o se haya expresado deba necesariamente ser anglosajón: existen latinoamericanos que comprenden dicha lengua e incluso pueden expresarse recurriendo a ella.

Más que una manifestación prejuiciosa de un extranjero acerca de Latinoamérica, diríase que el Rompecabezas latinoamericano es antetodo la autoexpresión de Silveira, quien lúdicamente articula, desarticula y rearticula el asunto latinoamericano, intentando una y otra vez algunas de sus combinaciones posibles en un trabajo original y que tiende a constituir una importante nube asociativa.

Silveira intervém sobre fotografias com recortes, diagramações e reticulações. A apropriação de imagens fotográficas é um procedimento constante em sua obra e que lhe acrescenta uma dimensão semântica. Realiza fotomontagens impressas em off-set e concebidas como simulacros de cartões-postais turísticos.
A poética de Silveira parece duvidar dos códigos de representação preestabelecidos e cristalizados. Uma referência importante para seu trabalho é a obra de Meret Oppenheim, que lhe permite, de forma irônica, reinventar esses códigos a fim de retirar deles novas possibilidades de significação.

Regina Silveira, In Absentia (Meret Oppenheim), 1993

Meret Oppenheim, Object (Breakfast in Fur), 1936

Regina Silveira, To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle), 1997. Detalhe. Cada peça: 48.5 X 39.5 cm.

O trabalho de Regina Silveira para a Bienal do Mercosul é um imenso quebra-cabeça de 130 peças, cujo encaixe das peças não gera uma figura única, mas uma grande colagem de imagens do imaginário latino-americano. Apesar de se encaixarem perfeitamente, nunca conseguem armar uma imagem global correta ou completa. Cada peça exibe uma imagem com a fotografia de um ícone ou referência gráfica do continente. A composição é heterogênea e tem também imagens estereotípicas de América Latina: Che Guevara, os monumentos eqüestres dos precursores da Independência, Carlos Gardel, a Virgem de Guadalupe, os mariachis, as igrejas coloniais, as guerrilhas revolucionárias, as culturas indígenas pré-colombinas, os animais andinos, as frutas tropicais, Carmem Miranda, os militarismos... Trabalhando na obra a questão da linguagem e do significante, Silveira leva sua composição visual, em sua totalidade, transgredir os padrões normais de um quebra-cabeças. Dessa forma agrega novas referências às imagens. To be continued... (Latin American Puzzle) [Quebra-cabeça latino-americano, para ser continuado] é uma obra que consegue mostrar como a diversidade cultural latino-americana, apesar de uma grande multiplicidade de referências, consegue unir as peças e formar um conjunto, mas sem criar uma autêntica unidade: as narrativas de diferentes épocas casam-se aleatoriamente. A obra pode revelar o olhar precário de quem conhece apenas estereótipos da nossa cultura e paisagens. Cada pessoa pode fazer suas próprias e novas associações e leitura.

To be continued... (Latin American Puzzle), 1997

"A montagem do quebra-cabeça compõe inevitavelmente narrativas abertas e caóticas que misturam diferentes geografías, épocas e culturas. Uma obra (quase diría 'turística') que revela o olhar precário do 'outro' estrangeiro, que conhece apenas, quando muito, estereótipos de nossa cultura e 'paisagens'" (Regina Silveira, 8 Bienal do Mercosul: Ensaios de geopoética, 2011, p. 248).

Programa Vesalius
Programa-Estímulo Vesalius 2015
Vesalius: Anatomia da Arte



Renaissance Rebel and Pioneer of Modern Anatomy

Andreae Vesalii Bruxellensis

The anatomist and physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) rebelled against the medical establishment to set groundbreaking new standards for modern anatomy. [...] Vesalius’ dedication to scientific inquiry, his passion, and his perfectionism made his work unforgettable.[1]

Vesalius was the foremost pioneer of modern anatomy. Born in Brussels, he came from a family of physicians. Educated in Louvain, he studied medicine in Montpelier and Paris, returning to Louvain to teach anatomy. In 1535 he went to France to be an army surgeon to King Charles V and two years later became a professor of anatomy in Padua, Italy. Subsequently he became a physician to the court of Philip II of Spain. On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he received a call to return to Padua to occupy chair of Fallopius. In a storm leading to a shipwreck and subsequent death on the Isle of Zante, Vesalius was buried there in an unmarked grave in 1564. This marked the end of the 'prince of anatomy.' Vesalius' book De humani Corpor[i]s fabrica, published in Basel in 1543, contributes one of the greatest treasures of western civilization and culture. With its companion volume, the Epitome, began the modern observational science and research.[2]

Vesalius is the most famous of all anatomists. In his On The Fabric of the Human Body, he attacked his great Greek predecessor, Galen, for basing his influential anatomical theories on animal dissection and demanded that future descriptions of the human body should be based on human dissection.[3]

Inevitably there will always be resistance to exploring new and unchartered territory. Perhaps one of the most controversial areas of scientific research has been the study of human anatomy. [...] Galen, one of the greatest contributors to the early study of anatomy (c. 129-216 CE) was forced to vivisect pigs and apes as substitutes for cadavers as the dissection of human bodies was prohibited at the time. Amazingly his work stood for centuries and was not really interrogated until the 1500’s when Andreas Vesalius published perhaps the most groundbreaking books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica, in which he naturally contradicted and corrected a number of Galen’s findings.[4]

Groundbreaking nearly half a millennium ago, the Fabrica remains relevant and intriguing in the 21st century.[5]

De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (À propos de la structure du corps humain en sept livres) est un livre sur l’anatomie humaine écrit par l’anatomiste belge Andreas Vesalius (André Vésale, 1514-1564) en 1543 et publié à Bâle par Johannes Oporinus en 1543, 2e éd. en 1555.
Il s’agit d’un des plus grands ouvrages scientifiques jamais réalisés et du livre fondateur de l’anatomie moderne. En quelques 663 pages, plus de deux cents planches, accompagnées de leurs commentaire, il fait la première description complète de l’anatomie du corps humain, décrivant soigneusement les os, les articulations, les muscles, le coeur et les vaisseaux sanguins, le système nerveux, les organes de l’abdomen et du thorax ainsi que le cerveau.
Après avoir obtenu l’autorisation en 1539 de pratiquer des dissections sur des cadavres de condamnés, Vésale constate rapidement des erreurs dans les descriptions de Galien et comprend qu’elles s’appliquent au singe et non à l’homme. Il entreprend alors la rédaction d’un traité d’anatomie destiné à corriger ces erreurs. En 1540, il confirme son hypothèse en disséquant à Bologne le cadavre d’un singe et d’un homme et montre que l’appendice tel que le décrit Galien n’existe que chez le singe.
En 1543, à l’âge de 28 ans et après quatre ans de travaux incessants, il publie ses découvertes à Bâle chez Jean Oporin (imprimeur, universitaire et professeur de grec) dans De humani corporis fabrica, couramment appelé la Fabrica, le plus grand traité d’anatomie depuis Galien.
Dans cet ouvrage, Vésale corrige les erreurs de Galien. La seconde édition en 1555 corrige ces dernières erreurs. Ce livre mettra fin au galénisme, mais par la polémique qu’il engendre amène Vésale à abandonner son travail de recherche. Il est en effet attaqué par de nombreux galénistes, et notamment par Jacobus Sylvius, l’un de ses anciens maîtres. Il fait une dernière démonstration publique à Padoue en décembre 1543. Puis, dans un accès de colère ou de lassitude, il brûle tous ses documents scientifiques, ses livres et ses travaux et abandonne sa chaire de professeur.
L’une des particularité de De humani corporis fabrica est la grande qualité graphique de ses planches anatomiques. Une série de 25 planches hors-texte gravées sur bois est d’ailleurs d’une telle qualité que certainsbreux spécialistes les attribuent à Titien (Tiziano venitiano) lui-même. On sait que les reproductions des planches ont été réalisées par l’atelier de Titien et notamment par Jan Van Calcar (Jean de Calcar).[6]

Credits and references
1. 500 Years Vesalius
2. Stephen N. Joffe, Andreas Vesalius: Making, Madman, Myth, 2014. The book puts in context the story of a man that changed the way of considering the human body and revolutionized the structure of medical textbooks.
3. Lunchtime Lecture: Vesalius 500 years on, London, Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons of England, 16.9.2014
4. Aanderton, Early Anatomists, John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog, Manchester, 10.10.2013
5. 500 Years Vesalius
6. Mairgance, De humanis corporis fabrica, Luxe et Vanités, 21.3.2011

Online Resources
• Stephen N. Joffe, Andreas Vesalius: Making, Madman, Myth, Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2009-14.
Vesalius' Fabrica, Basel: Karger, 2014
Vesalius and Dissection, Kickoff, 17.5.[!]
• Grace Dane Mazur, The Strange Beauty of “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge”, The Arts Fuse, 18.9.2011 Ref. invention of etching, 16th century
History of Illustration: Vesalius and Dürer, 20.11.2012
Anatomical Maps: Eastern Development in the Middle Ages
• U.S. National Library of Medicine, Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD: Dream Anatomy - Gallery


1) http://www.comptonhistory.com/compton2/Vesalius.htm

In 1500 the most important books used in the training of doctors were those written by Claudius Galen. Galen's ideas had been dominant for hundreds of years, but were only proved wrong for the first time by Andreas Vesalius.

Who was Andreas Vesalius?
Vesalius was born in Brussels and completed his medical training in Paris. He went on to become Professor of Anatomy at Padua University in Italy. During the Renaissance Padua was a famous centre for medical training. Vesalius believed that the dissection of human bodies was necessary if doctors were to find out how bodies worked. However, the dissection of human bodies was not allowed by the Church. Vesalius therefore had to resort to taking bones from graves and even stealing a body from the gallows so that he could explore the anatomy of the human body.

How did he become well known?
In 1543 Vesalius wrote the first major book about anatomy. It was called 'de Humani Corporis Fabrica' (The Fabric of the Human Body). Vesalius worked closely with the famous artist Titian who produced 277 anatomical illustrations for his book. He pioneered the use of highly illustrated medical text, where the drawings showed the human body in greater detail then ever before.

How did he change medical ideas?
Vesalius's work brought about an important change in medical thinking. He was able to prove that some of Galen's theories were wrong. Galen, who was only able to dissect animals, assumed that humans had the same anatomy. Vesalius by performing dissections on humans revealed anatomical structures previously unknown.

How important was Vesalius?
Vesalius helped establish surgery as a separate medical profession. At the time, though he was criticised, as many people refused to believe that Galen's work could be wrong. The popularity of Vesalius's book, however, meant that his views gradually gained acceptance and greater emphasis began to be placed upon the study of anatomy in medical training.




As we have been progressing through the year we have been constantly reminded that we are not just animators, illustrators and graphic designers but that we are all visual designers. I love this idea that we are not limited to only exploring our chosen subject and are encouraged to think of ourselves as general designers, using whatever means we determine best to communicates our ideas. I especially like this concept as although I am passionate about graphic design, and have hence chosen it as my subject, I am also very interested in the fields of illustration and animation as I want to become a well rounded designer and not just another mac monkey. The illustration history lecture was a lecture that got me excited about this idea as we were shown some amazing works of illustration, some of which I had been lead to believe where not illustrations but fine art pieces as the were regarded so highly.

The works of Andreas Vesalius stood out to me in particular as not only beautiful drawings but works of great importance that helped influence many things. Vesalius is most famous for his elaborate drawings of the human anatomy, drawings which were not only amazing to look at but also for the most part anatomically correct. His illustrations were not only intricately drawn works of art but also helped improve the knowledge doctors had at the time of the human body and helped raise the bar of medical care at the time. The reason I find Vesalius’s works so impressive is because of the huge contributions they made to something outside of the art world. He was not merely observing and capturing visions of the world he lived in but helping mould and change it, an achievement all designers strive towards. I also just love the style of his artwork as I always find myself drawn to works where line has been given a prominent role. The level of detail in Vesalius’s works are astounding especially when you consider we know now that many of his drawing from nearly 500 years ago were very accurate representations of the human body.

As I’m a fan of line determined works it’s pretty obvious that I’m also a fan of the original master of line, Albert Durer. Durer’s work is widely regarded as being some of the best examples of draftsmen ship to come out of the German Renaissance with his attention to detail being obvious in works such as his apocalypse series and “Melancholia”. His treatment of line in his work is unlike anything that came before him with the intricacy of the drawings being something I greatly admire about him. However I think it’s safe to say that nobody admired Durer more than himself as he quite often featured in his own work, sometimes even as Jesus Christ which is possibly the reason he was the first artist to put his signature on all his works, something which today can make or break a piece. Probably the thing I like most about duress’s work is the the generally dark and macabre themes in most of his works. The eeriness of the the devil in “Knight Death and The Devil” and his various renditions of death incarnate are all parts I love to look at for the fact that I love things like them and also because of how well they have been illustrated.


3) vesalius n dissection - http://fx.damasgate.com/vesalius-and-dissection/

For centuries (until computer imaging made it possible to move around and through a body) dissection was the only reliable way to learn anat- omy, and the dead body the only place you could afford to make mistakes. In this tradition of medical education, the great hero is Vesalius (1514–64), who is regarded as the founder of modern medi- cine. The beginning of modern medicine can then be dated to a day in 1536 when Vesalius, walking outside the city walls of Louvain, came across the body of an executed criminal chained to a gibbet. Only the bones remained, ‘held together by the ligaments alone’. Vesalius at once made off with the arms and legs, but came back that night (defying the curfew) to climb the gibbet, smash the chain and carry off the trunk. Out of these parts he constructed his first skeleton em;boiling them up secretly, and then pretending that he had brought them with him from Paris. ‘I was burning with so great a desire to possess those bones,’ he wrote seven years later, ‘that I did not hesitate to snatch in the middle of the night that which I so desired.’ Vesalius had no name for his desire, and I can think of none either. The love of knowledge certainly formed part of it. So did a burning desire to imitate Galen, who describes coming across a rather similar skeleton in his On Anatomical Procedures, a work which had only recently been rediscovered, and a translation of which had been published by Vesalius’s teacher, Guinter of Andernach, in 1531. But so too did a delight in doing what no one else dared do, what was forbidden. At night restless spirits walk, and Vesalius was one of them. In Northern Europe dissection was a relative rarity, and Vesalius went on to conduct the first dissection in Louvain for eighteen years. Vesalius complained that his own education at the University of Paris had been so pathetic that, despite being a medical student who had practised only on the bodies of animals, he had had to take over from the instructor during the dissection of a human being in order to show how it ought to be done. In Italy, however, dissections had been routine for over two hundred years. In 1315 Mondino de’ Luzzi, at the University of Bologna, conducted the first comprehensive dissection of a human corpse for over a thousand years, perhaps even since Herophilus and Erasistratus, and the next year he published a manual on the subject. Mondino believed himself to be following in the footsteps of Galen, although there is no conclusive evidence that Galen ever actually dissected human beings. Mondino established a new norm for medical education in Italy (where the distinction between medicine and surgery was less sharp than in Northern Europe): doctors were expected, as part of their university education, to be present at dissections. Dissections were carried out in the winter months and the bodies used were those of recently executed criminals. No more than one or two dissections were normally conducted in a year, and the audience consisted of a small group of twenty or so. As these dissections became routine, they were brought within a conventional academic framework, that of the lecture. The professor read from a textbook, usually that of Mondino, while his assistant, frequently a practising surgeon, carried out the dissection. The real object of study was the book; the body was only there to illustrate what was being described in the book. Such academic dissection was quite separate from the occasional opening up of a body to establish the cause of death, the post mortem, a process which goes back before 1315 and has a continuous history thereafter.

Anatomy Lesson, from Johannes de Ketham, Fasciculus Mediciniae (Venice, 1522). This illustration stands at the beginning of an edition of Mondino’s Anothomia. In the first two editions of this collection the image is slightly different – the lecturer has no book in front of him, and is presumably intended to be Mondino himself. This reworked image first appears in 1495, and shows a lecturer reading from Mondino’s text – it thus shows how anatomy was taught prior to Vesalius. With Vesalius and his immediate predecessors (in Italy, from 1490 or so) everything changes. Dissections become much more frequent –– in 1522 Jacopo Berengario da Carpi (c.1460–c.1530) claimed to have dissected hundreds of bodies. The result was a crisis in the supply of bodies. Dissections also became immensely popular. Tiered seating would be erected in a church or a square so that a very large audience could get a good view –– audiences of five hundred were not unknown. The frontispiece of Vesalius’s great work, the De Humani Corporis Fabrica or The Construction of the Human Body (1543), shows the crowds gathered to watch ‘an anatomy’ (as a dissection was called by contemporary Englishmen). Moreover such audiences consisted not just of doctors and medical students, but of philosophers, theo- logians, gentlemen and their servants, though, if Vesalius’s frontispiece is to be trusted, there were no women amongst them. Attending a dissection was now a fashionable entertainment. By the early seven- teenth century special anatomical theatres were being built in Italy and Holland for the public performance of dissections (and there were women in the audience in Holland). Above all, the focus of dissection was now not on the book but the body: Vesalius used no book, but displayed the parts of the body himself. In the preface to the Fabrica he laid great stress on the need to step down from the cathedra, the pulpit or great chair from which professors lectured, and work with one’s own hands, and the Fabrica contains a portrait of Vesalius dissecting an arm. The anatomy lecturer was now expected to lecture from what Vesalius called the book of nature (thus indirectly acknowledging the traditional authority of books), and this involved, quite literally, getting his hands dirty. Why was there such public interest in anatomy in the sixteenth century? Vesalius was proud to be doing exactly what Galen had done em;Galen had not trusted his slaves to prepare bodies (in his case, the bodies of apes), but had worked on them with his own hands, and had conducted dissections in public. The new anatomy fitted in with a much larger enterprise of recovering the culture of classical Rome, an enterprise that embraced literature, philosophy, and art. Vesalius, though, was convinced (quite possibly correctly) that Galen had dissected only apes, dogs, pigs, and other animals, not humans.

The titlepage to the 1st edition of Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica.

This was the only feasible explanation for his numerous mistakes: in the Fabrica Vesalius set out to demonstrate more than three hundred of them. At his public dissections he may well have compared dogs and monkeys with humans (both a monkey and a rather strange-looking dog appear in the frontispiece) so that people could see for themselves the source of Galen’s misconceptions, but such animals were probably primarily to hand so that they could be vivisected. Anatomy thus represented new knowledge in a world where the assumption had long been that there could be no progress beyond the achievements of the ancients. Anatomy was seen as being of central importance. It was man’s knowledge of himself, through which the anatomist learnt about his own body. But at the same time man was a microcosm, a little uni- verse, an epitome of the macrocosm or larger universe, so that all knowledge was to be found reflected and summarized in him. And man had, the Bible said, been made in the image of God, so the study of anatomy was also the study of the divine. Moreover anatomy gave onlookers the opportunity to meditate on death and the transi- ence of life, a theme both philosophical and religious. Finally, the Renaissance did not see minds and bodies as distinct in the way that we (since Descartes) do: hair colour, for example, reflected the balance of the humours, and this determined the psychology of the individual. To study someone’s body was also to study their mind. All this served to give the messy and disturbing task of cutting up bodies an extraordinary dignity. Renaissance art had already trained people to look at the body in a new way, and from the beginning the great artists of the Renaissance had practised anatomy. Donatello (1386–1466) attended anatomical dissections (he illustrates one in a bronze, ‘The Heart of the Miser’) and made a bronze sculpture of the skeleton of a horse; Antonio Pollaiuolo (1432–98) ‘removed the skin from many corpses in order to see the anatomy underneath’. To portray weight, balance, move- ment, tension, and strength the artist had to have a direct knowledge of the structure of the bones and the shape of the muscles. In 1435 Alberti advised anyone painting a human figure to imagine the bones beneath the skin and to build up from them the muscles and the surface appearance, and there is a sketch by Raphael in which he can be seen doing exactly that. The great Leonardo (1452–1519) was so interested in the structure of the human body that he planned a book on human anatomy, perhaps to be written in conjunction with a famous Florentine doctor of the day, Marcantonio della Torre. A generation later, the artists crowded round Vesalius at dissections. On such occasions the artist and the anatomist had more in common than just an interest in bodies. At the same time that the anatomist was getting down from his podium to get his hands dirty, the artist, who had always been considered of low social class because he worked with his hands, was laying claim to a new social status, a right to mix with intellectuals and nobles. Both had an investment in dignifying manual dexterity. The anatomist was demonstrating his newfound knowledge, but the human body was interesting partly because artists had trained the public to look at it with an anatomist’s eye. The anatomists and the artists, by giving manual work a new status, made possible the scientific revolution, which itself depended on the educated learning from artisans and doing things for them- selves with their own hands. The anatomy theatre is the first labora- tory, the cadaver the first experimental apparatus. Galileo, Boyle, and Newton followed in the footsteps of Leonardo and Vesalius, and the crowds who gathered to watch Vesalius were giving their support to the first modern scientific enterprise. Without three technical developments Vesalius could never have accomplished what he did: the printing press using movable type; the woodcut; and perspectival representation. In order to claim that he knew more than Galen had done, Vesalius had to direct his audience to reliable editions of Galen. He himself edited, for the great Giunta edition of Galen’s Opera Omnia that appeared in 1541–2 and included many new translations from the best Greek manuscripts, the key ana- tomical text of Galen, the one that had inspired his own bone-stealing in 1536. An anatomist like Mondino, in the fourteenth century, could not read the full range of Galen’s writings, or be sure that the copies he had were reliable (even Vesalius complained that he could not get sight of crucial Greek manuscripts that he needed to check the accur- acy of the Latin translations). By 1542 any educated person with access to a decent library could trace the full range of Galen’s views on any topic, and could be confident that the texts at his disposal were generally accurate. He could now claim to be sure of what Galen thought and consequently to be in a position to judge whether he was wrong or right. The printing press and the new scholarly editions that it made possible were fundamental to Vesalius’s enterprise of surpassing Galen. In addition, before the printing press medical books had had either no illustrations or only very rudimentary ones. Manuscripts were copied by hand and so only the crudest of illustrations could be employed. With anything complicated the quality was bound to degenerate as one copy was made from another. With the printing press came a new emphasis on illustration; woodcuts and (even better) copper plates could be employed to provide complex and detailed information. Leonardo saw clearly the possibilities that this opened up. Beside one of his anatomical drawings of a heart he wrote: O writer what words of yours could describe this whole organism as perfectly as this drawing does? Because you have no true knowledge of it you write confusedly, and convey little understanding of the true form of things . . . How could you describe this heart in words without filling a whole book? And the more minutely you try to write of it the more you confuse the mind of the listener. Vesalius invented the process of labelling parts of illustrations with letters keyed to an accompanying text, so that readers could turn back and forth from text to illustration using each as a commentary on the other. Vesalius was also able to draw on the great discovery of Renais- sance art, perspectival representation, to produce images that created the illusion of being three-dimensional, without which it would have been impossible to represent the interrelationship of the different parts of the human body. Raised in Brussels and Louvain, educated in Paris, by 1537 Vesalius was teaching in Padua, and to illustrate his great work, the Fabric of the Human Body, he turned to the nearby city of Venice, to the artists in Titian’s studio. The first scientific drawings employed the skills of the most highly trained artists of the day.

Two medieval illustrations of skeletons, one from the fourteenth and one from the mid-fifteenth centuries, give an indication of the very varying quality of the illustrations accompanying medieval med- ical manuscripts – but even the finer of the two, an exceptionally detailed image for a medieval manuscript, falls far short of the standard of accuracy established by Vesalius. Vesalius was the first to bring together anatomy, art, and the printing press. In principle, Leonardo could have beaten him to it; but the enterprise would have been impossible before 1500, when a lavishly illustrated book would have been hopelessly expensive (the first ana- tomical drawing made from direct observation had appeared in print as recently as 1493), and eccentric before 1531, for up until then the task of catching up with the knowledge of the ancient Romans was still incomplete. Before Vesalius, the most important work to pioneer anatomical illustration was Berengario da Carpi’s Commentaria of 1521; Vesalius published his first illustrated medical text, the Tabulae Anatomicae in 1538, in collaboration with an artist, Joannes Stephanus of Calcar: he must have begun work on the Tabulae almost immedi- ately on arrival in Padua. He was clearly determined to waste no time. Illustration, of the quality pioneered in the Fabrica, enabled the anatomist to make manifest exactly what it was that he thought he had seen. His successors could compare both his words and his plates with what they found on the dissecting table, and if there was a discrepancy they could be certain that they had found something new. Leonardo carried out a number of dissections, and in his draw- ings we can trace the development of his anatomical understanding. At first he held all sorts of mythical beliefs derived from ancient authors: for example, that there was a duct connecting the penis to the brain, so that semen contained not only matter from the testicles, but spirit from the brain. The great English anatomist, Thomas Willis, was still looking for such a duct in the 1660s. As time passed, Leonardo made ever more exact observations of the human body, although occasionally it is clear from his drawings that he has more experience of dissecting cows than humans, so that bovine features appear in his illustrations of human anatomy! Still, his new knowledge, confined to his private notebooks, had no impact on his contemporaries. Vesalius’s discoveries, by contrast, were a public record of the extent (and the limits) of his knowledge. In the Fabrica Vesalius set out to illustrate the human body logic- ally, which meant ignoring the sequence of an actual dissection. A dissection started with the abdomen, which was where putrefaction began first, and then proceeded to remove the skin, and work down through the layers of the flesh, ending with the bare bones. As a result the normal name for a skeleton in sixteenth-century English was ‘an anatomy’, since a skeleton was the end product of the anatomical enterprise. But Vesalius begins the Fabrica with the bones and they, at the end of the first book, are then assembled into a series of three elegant skeletons, viewed from front, side, and rear. He then works from the surface of the body inwards, and only finally does he turn to the abdomen. One can see at once the pedagogical advantages of such an approach, but it was also a symbolic choice on Vesalius’s part: the skeleton represented the beginning of his own career as an anatomist. Only having introduced you to the skeleton does he begin to work with the whole body. The skeleton was Vesalius’s trademark, and it became the trade- mark of the new anatomy. Hippocrates may have given a statue repre- senting a skeleton to the temple of Asclepius. Galen had stressed the importance of trying to find a body where the flesh had rotted away and all the bones were in place, though there is no evidence that he ever went on, as Vesalius did, to assemble a skeleton by tying the bones together with thread and wire. There are images of skeletons on late Roman tombs and drinking cups, reminders of the shortness of life; and in the later Middle Ages there are often images of death as an emaciated creature with the bones showing through, or even as a mere skeleton. And Donatello’s bronze horse’s skeleton shows how natural it was for any Renaissance artist to think in terms of skeletons. There was nothing new, then, about the idea of a skeleton. Vesalius however turned the articulated skeleton into a central pedagogical aid: he had one hanging by the body being dissected as he lectured and cut, and, in imitation of him, generations of anatomists furnished every anatomy theatre with its skeleton. Vesalius could use skeletons as pedagogic aids because he had a new method for producing them. He implies he is following the example of Galen, but the reference he gives to Galen is false, and perhaps deliberately misleading. He tells us, in the opening pages of the Fabrica, that his predecessors had put bodies in coffins, covered them in quick lime, and then, after a few days, cut holes in the sides of the coffins and put them in a stream. After a while, the coffins were removed from the running water and opened; the flesh had washed away, leaving the bones, still tied together by ligaments. But the dark ligaments concealed much of what needed to be seen. Vesalius’s method was very different. In his kitchen, he boiled up a large vat of water. He carved up a body, removing as much flesh as possible, and carefully putting aside loose pieces of cartilage, including the cartilage in the tip of the nose and the eyelids. He then boiled up the body until it fell apart, pouring off the fat and straining the liquid so that nothing was lost. He was left with beautiful clean bones that could be wired together to create an almost perfect representation of the ‘living’ skeleton.

The lateral view of the skeleton from the De Fabrica of 1543. the ‘living’ skeleton.

Those little bits of cartilage which could not be reattached (the tip of the nose, the stiffening to the eyelid, the ears) he strung together on a necklace to decorate his teaching aid, which was then made portable by being mounted on a folding stand and encased in a box –– one of Vesalius’s skeletons survives to this day in Basle. There is something profoundly alarming about the story of how to make a skeleton: Vesalius is boiling bones as if he was making beef stock; he is chopping up bodies in his own kitchen as if he were about to eat them. By beginning with bones, and with his recipe for pro- ducing skeletons, Vesalius was inevitably reminding his readers that there was something shocking about dissection. As already noted, a papal bull of 1299 had specifically forbidden the boiling up of bodies (a method used for the bones of Crusaders), and Mondino had acknowledged that there were some bones in the skull that could only properly be exposed by boiling them up: these, Mondino said, he was accustomed (a slippery word) to leave alone, in order to avoid committing a sin. Readers of Vesalius naturally concentrate on the large and elaborate scientific illustrations; but each book and then each chapter begins with an illustrated initial letter –– a larger letter for the first letter of each book, a smaller one for the first letter of every chapter after the first. Naturally the first letter of the preface is a large initial V, illustrated by a picture of an anatomist cutting into a body positioned so that it seems strangely alive. The first letter of book I, facing the portrait of Vesalius himself, shows putti (naked children) boiling up bones in a kitchen to make a skeleton. The innocence of the putti contrasts sharply with the cooking of human beings. This, as much as the portrait of himself, is Vesalius’s chosen self-representation. It is sometimes said that the very act of looking inside the body was disturbing. This is certainly wrong, as in Italy it was normal to embalm bodies to help preserve them between death and the funeral. Italian funerals were ‘open casket’ events; no body that had been dissected could be buried in the normal way. But worse still, no body that had been turned into a skeleton could be buried at all. At the very heart of the new practice of dissection, where it ended in the production of a skeleton, was a truly shocking act: the denial of burial to the dead. Theologically speaking, one did not need to be buried in order to be resurrected to eternal life: Vesalius’s skeletons, bones in a box, with the flesh torn away and boiled off, were in no worse a position as far as resurrection was concerned than fishermen drowned at sea, and Italian cemeteries contained ossuaries where old bones were collected when plots were reused for fresh burials. Still, the burying of the dead was a fundamental gesture of respect, and if the remains of the dissected sometimes ended up in a tomb, they often ended up on display. Vesalius was engaged in a strangely contradictory activity. On the one hand he employed the finest artists to turn his cadavers into aesthetic objects. He carefully posed his dead bodies so that they could be represented as though still alive. He had them illustrated in landscapes, as if walking about. When he came to illustrate the viscera, where it was clearly impossible to make a corpse look alive with its guts hanging out, he created the illusion that an antique statue was being opened up to discover flesh-and-blood organs within. But then, he provides an illustration to show just how his bodies were posed: a corpse held up by a rope, hanging from a pulley, bits of flesh dangling from the bones. When he dissects the brain, he allows you to see (after the idealized anonymity of the ‘muscle men’) the mous- tache and facial characteristics of the corpse: his friends would be able to recognize him. And he provides an illustration of the lower torso, with legs splayed and dangling penis, which makes it look like a hunk of meat on a butcher’s slab. At one moment he is a magician, beautify- ing death; at the next he is telling you it was only a trick, and showing you how terrible the dead body can be. We find the same contradiction in the text. At one moment Vesalius is writing of anatomy as a divine calling, at another he is boiling human bodies in a vat. It is Vesalius who tells us that he obtained the first body he worked on by pulling it down off a gibbet and carrying it home in pieces under cover of darkness; Vesalius who tells us that his students stole the unburied body of a woman who had recently died, and quickly flayed it so that those who knew her would not recognize her; Vesalius who tells us that one of the bodies he dissected was that of a recently buried prostitute beauty, her body stolen from the cemetery; Vesalius who tells us that his students had keys made so that they could get easy access to bones and bodies in the cemeteries.

Third illustration of the anatomy of the torso from the De Fabrica: this is one of a series of images that turn the body into an antique statue.

Vesalius repeatedly tells us, in short, that he obtains bodies by stealing them and makes it absolutely clear that much of this activity is criminal: in the case of the flayed woman, her relatives went straight to a judge to protest the theft of her corpse. In 1497, the anatomist Alessandro Benedetti had claimed the law allowed the dissection of ‘unknown and ignoble bodies’, those of foreigners and criminals, who had no one to protect their honour, but in Venice at least the law was tightened up in 1550 to put an end to tomb robbing by anatomists, and many of the stories with which Vesalius had regaled his readers disappeared from the revised edition of the Fabrica in 1555. A tiny detail in the text illustrates Vesalius’s obsession with the transgressive. Once an initial letter had been designed it was reused whenever the same letter occurred: thus the large initial V that stands at the head of the preface also stands at the head of book V. But there are two small initial ‘L’s –– the standard initial ‘L’ shows a body being removed from the gallows; but at the point in his text where he discusses the anatomy of the arse, Vesalius has an initial ‘L’ which shows a putto shitting. This is, quite straightforwardly, a dirty joke; but what Vesalius is doing here is shitting on his own book. Vesalius was not the only one to tell stories against himself: Leon- ardo joked about having the quartered bodies of human beings lying around his studio, as if it was a butcher’s shop. It is worth remember- ing that in Renaissance Europe, butchers, like executioners, were always social pariahs, forced to live on the outskirts of town, and unable to marry the daughters of other tradesmen. One artist, the sculptor Silvio Cosini, as if in a Renaissance Silence of the Lambs, even made a T-shirt for himself out of the skin of a dissected body: scolded by a friar, he gave his shirt a decent burial. The main legitimate source of bodies was the scaffold (remember the initial ‘L’ with its body being removed from the gallows), but bodies that had been executed were inevitably badly damaged. Not surprisingly, anatomists were eager to cut out the middleman; the great anatomist Fallopio (the discoverer of the Fallopian tubes) was given a live criminal by the ruler of Tuscany; the arrangement was mutually beneficial, for the condemned man was killed by opiates, a merciful death which left the body intact. The search for fresh corpses could also bring anatomists perilously close to human vivisection: Vesalius writes of removing the still pulsing heart of someone ‘killed’ in an accident. Anatomy was an inherently transgressive activity that only slowly became respectable; for his publisher Vesalius chose not a Venetian press, but Oporinus of Basle, who had a reputation for publishing heretics (including Castellio and Servetus). Vesalius constantly emphasized both anatomy’s potential for respectability and its trans- gressive character. One could argue that his own texts imply a subtext: that Vesalius confesses to tomb robbing and cooking up human bodies because he is himself horrified by what he does. Katharine Park has written of Vesalius’s ‘candid pride’ in his tomb-robbing exploits, but on the contrary his behaviour suggests someone deeply conflicted. As soon as he had seen the Fabrica through the press he gave up lecturing on anatomy to become a doctor to the emperor; and he destroyed a number of unpublished works. He died on the island of Zante, returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem: according to a story we owe to the great Renaissance surgeon Ambroise Paré, he had fled Spain for the Holy Land when the body of a young girl that he was dissecting had turned out to be still alive. Johannes Metellus tells us that on his return his ship had been caught in storms and had been at sea for forty days; those on board had not expected the voyage to be anything like as lengthy. ‘Several [of the passengers] became sick, partly through lack of biscuit and partly through lack of water, and Vesalius’s mind was so disturbed by the casting of the dead into the sea that he fell ill, first through anxiety and then through fear, and asked that if he should die he might not, like the others, become food for the fish.’ You might think that being eaten by fish is no worse than being eaten by worms; but there is an important difference. Human beings do not eat worms but they do eat fish. To be eaten by fish is to enter the human food chain; it is cannibalism at one remove. And it was always the spectre of cannibal- ism that overshadowed the anatomist’s art. Fortunately for Vesalius he did not die until very shortly after reaching land, and was given a decent burial, so that, according to Pietro Bizzari, his body ‘might not remain as food and nourishment for wild beasts’. ‘May God preserve us from such a fate’, wrote the early sixteenth-century anatomist Alessandro Benedetti after describ- ing an anatomy. Vesalius, terrified of being eaten by fishes, would surely have been equally dismayed at the thought of being chopped up, boiled, and turned into a skeleton; to have one’s body stolen by medical students was every bit as awful as being eaten by wild beasts. Concealed behind Vesalius’s bravado is a genuine alarm at what he had done; we find no trace of this horror in the greatest pupil of the Paduan anatomists, William Harvey, who carried out post-mortem dissections on both his father and his brother.


4) http://nyamcenterforhistory.org/vesalius-500/

Global Celebrations of Vesalius’s 500th Birthday

Vesalius 500: Art, Anatomy and the Body
Celebrating the intertwined histories of art and anatomy; illustration and medicine; performance and the body; and the 500th birthday of anatomist and humanist Andreas Vesalius.

New York Academy of Medicine, 18 October 2014

Unexpected Anatomies: Extraordinary Bodies in Contemporary Art
Ann Fox, PhD, and Chun-Shan “Sandie” Yi
Artworks about body difference show us the lived experience of disability. They dissect traditional ways of knowing about the body, which typically operate on our perceptions and expectations in problematic ways. Scholar Tobin Siebers has posited a “disability aesthetics” that dismantles our understanding of the body as an entity that is naturally one way and offers, instead, through fragmentation and reassemblage of the human form, a richer sense of human embodiment. Fox will discuss anatomies in art that approach and compel the anatomical gaze toward the body slant; for instance, Carol Chase Bjerke’s Misfortune Cookies, arranged in the shape of a stoma, evoke the intersection of the physical embodiment and lived experience of the ostomy patient. Yvonne Petkus’s sculptural paintings of female nudes—some informed by the experiences of Boston Marathon bombing survivors—reimagine the muscled anatomical figure in a meditation on bodily hierarchies and the aftereffects of trauma. Doug Auld’s paintings of burn survivors, State of Grace, and Sandie Yi’s Re-fuse Skin Set, challenge our sense of skin as the reflector of a whole, cohesive, normalized anatomy.

STAND UP STRAIGHT: Toward a History of the Science of Posture
Sander Gilman
Our bodies are malleable. They change with age and with the demands that we place on them. How we stand—our posture—defines us as healthy or ill, able or disabled, beautiful or ugly. It defines us as human or not human. How do these shifting ideas of posture provide insights into the claims society makes on who we are and what we are able to do? The history of posture is also the history of our reading of human anatomy. From the ancients to the moderns, how the body’s anatomy is understood shaped and shapes our understanding of what is human (did Neanderthal Man stand up straight or slouch?), what is beautiful (the competition for a Posture Queen in twentieth-century America), and what is patriotic (no slouching in ranks!). How our understanding of posture was part of the history of anatomy and how the history of anatomy crafted our understanding of posture is central to this tale.

Revisiting the Frontispiece: Vesalius’s Jewish Friend and the Impact of the Inquisition
Jeff Levine, and Michael Nevins
The famous public human dissection on the frontispiece of the 1543 Fabrica features a bearded man in the gallery who appears disturbed. Dr. Jeff Levine and Dr. Michael Nevins attribute this distinctive face to Lazarus de Frigeis, whom Vesalius described in the text as his close friend, “the distinguished Jewish physician” who taught him Hebrew words for the bones. The frontispiece was recut for the 1555 second edition and the phrase “distinguished Jewish physician” was deleted. Drs. Levine and Nevins will discuss the relationship between Vesalius and Lazarus and consider whether the anatomist was courting trouble by making a public statement of admiration for a Jew during the Inquisition. They will also analyze differences between the first- and second-edition frontispieces and their meanings. Did they contain coded messages reflecting a spectrum of tensions existing in sixteenth-century Italian society, particularly in the context of European Jewry during the Renaissance —and if so, why?

Renaissance Illustration Techniques Workshop
Marie Dauenheimer, Medical Illustrator
Artists and anatomists passionate about unlocking the mysteries of the human body drove anatomical investigation during the Renaissance. Anatomical illustrations of startling power vividly described and represented the inner workings of the human form. Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks were among the most magnificent, merging scientific investigation and beautifully observed drawing. Students will have the opportunity to learn and apply the techniques used by Renaissance artists to illustrate anatomical specimens. Using dip and technical pens, various inks and prepared paper students will investigate, discover, and draw osteology, models, and dissected specimens from various views creating an anatomical plate.

Vesalius Program
Programa Estímulo Vesalius
Anatomia da Arte
A Luz de Vesalius
La luz de Vesalius
Mariano Akerman CV, Data and References
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