Academic Resources

Italyʼs medieval universities established the study of human anatomy for medical professionals. To heighten their art, the Renaissance masters clandestinely studied anatomy through human dissection. Connecting Art and Anatomy is better understood through reading the academic underpinnings of Anatomia Italiana.

Below is a selected bibliography of downloadable journal articles and book chapters in PDF that provide context for Anatomia Italiana.

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Below is a reference list of scholarly books that examine the connection between art and anatomy. 

  • Carlino, A. Books of the Body: Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning, University of Chicago Press, 1999.
  • Cunningham, A. The Anatomical Renaissance: The Resurrection of the Anatomical Projects of the Ancients, Scolar Press, 1997.
  • Klestinec, C. Theaters of Anatomy: Students, Teachers, and Traditions of Dissection in Renaissance Venice, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
  • O’Malley, C. and Saunders, J. Leonardo da Vinci: Leonardo on the Human Body. Dover, 1983.
  • Park, K. Secrets Of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection, Zone Books, 2006.
  • Rifkin, B. and Ackerman, M. Human Anatomy: From the Renaissance to the Digital Age, Abrams Publishers, 2006.
  • Riva, A (editor). Flesh and Wax: The Clemente Susini Anatomical Models in the University of Cagliari, Ilisso, 2007.
  • Saunders, J. and O’Malley, C. The Anatomical Drawings of Andreas Vesalius, Bonanza Books, 1982.
  • Sawday, J. The Body Embalzoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture, Routledge, 1995.
  • Stone, I. The Agony and The Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo,  New American Library, 1961.
  • Von During, M., Poggesi, M. and Didi-Huberman, G. Encyclopaedia Anatomica: Museo La Specola Florence, Taschen, 1999.
  • Wallace, W. Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man, and His Times, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Below are links to websites that can provide additional information

  • Complete Digital Copy of Vesalius’ Fabrica This 1543 edition of De humani corporis fabrica libri septem in digitized in its entirety and can be browsed online or fully downloaded. Large parts of it are also richly hand-colored and contain additional floral and ornamental illustrations
  • Paolo Mascagni Imaging Project at the University of Iowa Historical information about Mascagni, an anatomist, artist, and early researcher of the lymphatic system. Includes high-resolution images of his anatomical plates that were posthumously published in Anatomia Universa between 1823 and 1832. Nineteen original plates are on display at the Museo Storico Nazionale dell’Arte Sanitaria in Rome, and one of only two known bound editions is housed in the Anatomy Museum at the Second University of Naples.

Below are links to videos that further explore the connection between art and anatomy.

  • PBS Nova The Great Cathedral Mystery Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore—the Duomo—is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity. It’s still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries. How did its secretive architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, keep the dome perfectly aligned and symmetrical as the sides converged toward the center 40 stories above the cathedral floor? Researchers build a unique experimental model Duomo using period techniques.
  • Truth and Myth by Dr. Daniel H. Garrison View brief scholarly commentaries by Vesalius expert Daniel Garrison. Topics range from the source of bodies for dissection, to the myths of human structure and function that Vesalius challenged.
  • PBS Nova Colosseum: Roman Death Trap The Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Thousands of gladiators, prisoners, and animals met their deaths here. It could be flooded so ships could engage in sea battles! Archaeologists and engineers team up to investigate the innovation and ingenuity of the Romans.
  • The Many Meanings of Michelangelo’s David In this TedEd video the historical context of David is described in an effective and fun fashion.