Another Cadaver

19 Nov

Here’s another drawing from the museum of natural science in Florence, from the exhibition of exquisitely made wax cadavers. They are quite gruesome to draw, partly because they have been given very lifelike glass eyes. This example shows the main veins and arteries.

16 Responses to “Another Cadaver”

  1. kestrelart November 21, 2018 at 00:17 #

    It never crossed my mind then that to dissect a body was a remarkable thing, worthy of record. I probably drew diagrams but I doubt I still have them. I was eighteen.

    • Leonie Andrews November 22, 2018 at 23:01 #

      Ah the callowness of youth!

      • kestrelart November 22, 2018 at 23:58 #

        I guess I was thinking about having to learn all that anatomy, every nerve, every muscle, every artery, every bone. It was a culture shock going from school to learning the sheer volume of stuff. I wasn’t thinking artistically. I don’t know about callow, but shallow perhaps. At eighteen I did not know enough to respond as an artist perhaps might.
        Rose responds to the cadaver by sketching, but behind that is a depth of having been alive that is expressed in the drawing.

      • Leonie Andrews November 23, 2018 at 02:11 #

        Absolutely spot on. The shock of the real world! It’s one of the reasons I think that older artists have rather more to say in their work. When I went back to see the graduating exhibition at my uni a few years ago I felt that most work just stopped short of where it could have gone. I suspect that that is the result of my 10 + years experience post graduation ( as a mature age student).

      • Rosie Scribblah November 27, 2018 at 06:27 #

        I think that’s very true. I always found that the execution of the processes was reasonably easy, it’s getting the ideas, the inspiration that is hard. Now that I have lived a life, the ideas are coming . Still not easy though.

      • Leonie Andrews November 27, 2018 at 09:31 #

        Ah, nope rarely easy.

      • Rosie Scribblah November 23, 2018 at 06:34 #

        I had this romantic view of students gathered in a Renaissance style anatomy theatre, which I saw in Bologna, but one of our party is a doctor and she described being given large plastic boxes with snap-on lids and pulling out a head and schlepping it onto a table to cut up. Rather put me off……

      • Leonie Andrews November 23, 2018 at 07:27 #


      • Rosie Scribblah November 23, 2018 at 10:12 #

        There was certainly a sense of their humanity, at least for me. A couple of our group found them very distressing as they looked, to them, like so much meat and didn’t get a sense of their humanity. Others had a very detached, scientific interest. I didn’t find them distressing but nor did I find myself completely detached, until the obstetrics display. That was very hard going and I found I couldn’t draw them. I felt a profound sense of grief as each wax cadaver meant several dead children and mothers. Reality hit home.

      • kestrelart November 24, 2018 at 00:45 #

        When I dissected, we were taught to see the cadavers as people not things. It was part of our training. But we learned he other way too, to see living people more dispassionately. The obstetric cadavers do sound very moving but also worrying in terms of consent to use their bodies.

      • Rosie Scribblah November 27, 2018 at 07:10 #

        There was no consent as we understand it. These were done centuries ago. Most of the men were hanged criminals and the women were the poorest, whose families would have been grateful for the little fee they would have received. Some might even have been stolen. A sad and gruesome business.

  2. kestrelart November 19, 2018 at 23:07 #

    I spent two years of my life dissecting a body …
    No drawings. I never thought to do that then.

    • Rosie Scribblah November 21, 2018 at 00:13 #

      Oh what a shame. Some of the drawings by contemporary artists here are amazing

  3. indianeskitchen November 19, 2018 at 21:11 #

    Oh my I bet that was a tough one! I went to a science museum where they had cadavers that were sliced in sections to show the body. I forget how they preserved the body as it was a long time ago but I was surprised that I was more fascinated than grossed out.

    • Rosie Scribblah November 21, 2018 at 00:12 #

      It’s put me right off Italian dry cure ham though, and I am surrounded by it!

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