The Anatomy Lesson of Dr MacLean (with apologies to Rembrandt)

For technical assistance on this video, I’d like to thank Ty Nielson.

This installation is inspired by the 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn. I have used anatomical models and parts, mannequins, dolls and stuffed animals to recreate the anatomy theatre, an arena in which students and the general public would have had the opportunity to watch the official City Anatomist perform a dissection on an executed criminal. In my version, rather than having Dr Tulp perform the dissection, it is the anatomical model himself who is the surgeon general.

As the animation progresses the mannequin hands in the centre of the installation hold up different body parts, mostly human but a few animal (as you can see in the image below where a sheep skull is being held aloft). The images projected on the wall include historical anatomical etchings from classic scientific texts and selected pictures from my previous work entitled La Specola, a series of digital images included in the Quintessence exhibit, curated by myself and Catherine Stewart, held at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. To see more images from and information about that show, click here.

To see the still photographs, click here. Here is the original painting:

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp 1632

See more information on my anatomical art here. Read more about Rembrandt’s painting here and here.


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