From the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, the dominant tradition of anatomical illustration was strangely dynamic and expressive, featuring scenes such as skeletons striding through pastoral landscapes, deeply dissected corpses smirking seductively, or cadavers participating in their own dissections. By the end of the nineteenth century, anatomical illustrators embraced a more straightforward project: representing the physical body, shorn of agency, individuality, and personhood. This essay examines the changing conventions in anatomical illustration over the course of the nineteenth century, focusing on the difficulties of representing the dead human face. The face is decidedly both visual—an expressive object to be seen—and textual—shaped by a history, a series of experiences arranged by consciousness as narrative. This doubleness not only makes the face a difficult site for modern anatomical illustration but also gives the face its ethical charge.


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pp. 325-357
Launched on MUSE
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