Admission is always free Directions

Open today: 10:00 to 5:00

The Body Inside and Out: Anatomical Literature and Art Theory: Selections from the National Gallery of Art Library
July 24, 2010 – January 23, 2011
East Building Ground Level, Library

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: The humanist movement of the Renaissance introduced new realms of possibility in the arts and the sciences, including the study of anatomy. Many artists witnessed or participated in dissections to gain a better understanding of the proportions and systems of the body. Artists and physicians also worked together and formed partnerships—Leonardo and Marcantonio della Torre, Michelangelo and Realdo Columbo, and perhaps most famously, Titian and Andreas Vesalius—where the artist's renderings of the anatomist's findings were reproduced and dispersed to a scattered audience through the relatively recent innovation of print.

This exhibition, featuring outstanding examples of anatomy-related material from the collection of rare books in the National Gallery of Art Library, offers a glimpse into the ways anatomical studies were made available to and used by artists from the 16th to the early 19th century. On view are detailed treatises on human proportion and beauty by artists and scholars including Albrecht Dürer and Juan de Arfe y Villafane; drawing and painting manuals by Leonardo, Jean Cousin, and others, which include chapters on proportion and anatomy; and adaptations of anatomical treatises tailored to the needs of working artists by Roger de Piles and Johann Daniel Preissler, among others.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.

Image: Jehan Cousin, c. 1522–c. 1593, Livre de pourtraittre de maistre Iean Cousin peintre et geometrien tres-excellent, Paris, 1608, woodcut, A.W. Mellon New Century Fund

Related Resources

Audio and Video