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Fleshing Out SurfacesSkin in French Art and Medicine, 1650-1850$
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Mechthild Fend

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087967

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087967.001.0001

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Seeing through the skin

Seeing through the skin

Chapter:
(p.193) 6 Seeing through the skin
Source:
Fleshing Out Surfaces
Author(s):

Mechthild Fend

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719087967.003.0006

This chapter is dedicated to the function of skin in artistic anatomy. Anatomy, defined as a discipline that produces knowledge about the human body via dissection, tends to cut through the skin in order to gain access to the body's interior formation. In many anatomical illustrations, the removal of skin is dramatically staged in flayed figures that are emblematic of anatomy's focus on the body's interior. For artistic practices this was increasingly seen as a problem: if the artists‘ aim was typically the representation of living human figures, then anatomical knowledge could be both a means to an end and an obstacle. Since the end of the eighteenth century, illustrated anatomical publications especially dedicated to artists paid more and more attention to the body's exterior and a new genre of text books named ‘anatomies of exterior forms‘ emerged. The chapter focuses on nineteenth-century artistic anatomies taking such a morphological approach – in particular the works by Jean-Galbert Salvage, Pierre-Nicolas Gerdy, and Julien Fau – and argues that images and texts develop a strategy of projecting anatomical knowledge onto the body's surface allowing the artist to mentally render the human skin transparent.

Keywords:   anatomy, artistic anatomy, flaying, skin, transparency, Salvage, Jean-Galbert, Sue, Jean-Joseph, Gerdy, Pierre-Nicolas, Fau, Julien

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