Friday, November 16, 2018

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is considered a masterpiece and is a group portrait of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons in the form of an anatomy lesson. Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, Doctor of Medicine and Praelector Anatomiae to the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons, showed an anatomic dissection of a forearm on the corpse of an executed criminal.

Doctor Nicolas Tulp, Amsterdam's top surgeon, a world­renowned man of learning who presides each year over the ceremony of a public lesson is situated at the far right of a group of seven doctors, his audience, arranged in a pyramid.

The corpse is placed diagonally in the painting. All the onlookers, but one, are engrossed in the actual dissection and do not stare at the painter – unlike the norm for this type of painting. The painting, dated 1632 should be placed within the tradition of anatomy paintings from the Guild, which began in 1601 and extended far into the 18th century. s. It is often regarded as simply a group portrait of the Surgeons’ Guild in Amsterdam.

The painting is considered a masterpiece because Rembrandt seemingly created a realistic representation of an anatomy lesson and abandoned the traditional formal and stiff arrangement of figures.

From a surgeon’s point of view there are clear indications that Rembrandt fully understood Dr Tulp’s lecture and that his picture presents an accurate demonstration of the functional anatomy of the superficial flexors of the fingers.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt

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