The Renaissance period was a laboratory of extensive scientific and artistic production that also included the study of the human body for both medical and artistic purpose. The artists of this period, especially those of the Italian schools, were particularly fascinated by human dissection and began to attend or perform public human dissections or public lessons of anatomy. They paid particular attention on superficial anatomy, especially on muscles, to understand body dynamics, but only a few of them focused on other neglected subcutaneous structures (veins, nerves, lymph nodes). Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), one of the most brilliant artists in Italian High Renaissance, had a wide knowledge in human anatomy coming from his experience in public dissection, when he joined to the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici, and later in life thanks to the friendship with the anatomist Realdo Colombo. The present article aimed to examine Michelangelo’s works, following a chronological order, to find the presence of subcutaneous veins. When represented, the anatomical correctness of the superficial venous network has been evaluated in marble sculptures and frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Interesting anatomical considerations arose from the analysis of his famous works, in particular Pietà and David. Michelangelo paid a particular attention to anatomical dissection, this research being finalized to achieve detailed information for artistic purposes. The representation of distended superficial veins also contributed to transmit additional physical effort and emotional states in his masterpieces.

The Superficial Venous System: Art and Anatomy in Michelangelo’s Works

Gianfranco Natale
Primo
;
Soldani Paola
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

The Renaissance period was a laboratory of extensive scientific and artistic production that also included the study of the human body for both medical and artistic purpose. The artists of this period, especially those of the Italian schools, were particularly fascinated by human dissection and began to attend or perform public human dissections or public lessons of anatomy. They paid particular attention on superficial anatomy, especially on muscles, to understand body dynamics, but only a few of them focused on other neglected subcutaneous structures (veins, nerves, lymph nodes). Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), one of the most brilliant artists in Italian High Renaissance, had a wide knowledge in human anatomy coming from his experience in public dissection, when he joined to the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici, and later in life thanks to the friendship with the anatomist Realdo Colombo. The present article aimed to examine Michelangelo’s works, following a chronological order, to find the presence of subcutaneous veins. When represented, the anatomical correctness of the superficial venous network has been evaluated in marble sculptures and frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Interesting anatomical considerations arose from the analysis of his famous works, in particular Pietà and David. Michelangelo paid a particular attention to anatomical dissection, this research being finalized to achieve detailed information for artistic purposes. The representation of distended superficial veins also contributed to transmit additional physical effort and emotional states in his masterpieces.
Natale, Gianfranco; Colombai, Renato; Soldani, Paola
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1103894
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