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Anatomy Lessons through the Ages

Medical books from centuries past give a glimpse into the science of yore, thanks to the National Library of Medicine



National Library of Medicine

Medical study has come a long way from the 15th century to 2005 when Gray's Anatomy was at last issued on a CD-ROM. But just how far? Illustrations from early printed books on the subject show how much has changed in the teaching and understanding of the body. These images from the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine collection show barbers moonlighting as surgeons and elegant—if anatomically incorrect—artistic renditions of the human form.

Beginning with Johannes de Ketham's 1490s depiction of a medieval dissection class, passing through the hands of famed Albrecht Dürer and eroticizing Charles Estienne, and concluding with the dispassionate 18th-century renderings of William Hunter, the anatomical image had quite the journey through mid–second millennium Europe.

—Katherine Harmon

Slide Show: Anatomy Lessons Through the Ages

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