Artibus et Historiae no. 14 (VII)

1986, ISSN 0391-9064

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JAMES ELKINS - Two Conceptions of the Human Form: Bernard Siegfried Albinus and Andreas Vesalius

The exact measurements of the human form made by Bernard Siegfried Albinus (1747) provided the first effective alternate to Vesalian écorchés which had dominated artists' and anatomists' texts since the sixteenth century. Artists as diverse as Callot, Vien, Bouchardon, Pigalle, Van Loo, David, Hallé, and Géricault were influenced by the Albinian-Vesalian antinomy; some, like Flaxman and Houdon, preferred variants of the slender, mathematically and perspectively correct forms of Albinus; others, such as Hogarth and Samuel F. B. Morse, advocated less Neoclassical, more robust and Vesalian figures. The two patterns may be traced in the teaching of the French Academy from c. 1750 to 1793; and they had a long Nachleben in nineteenth century anatomy texts, where they were influenced by developments in architectural drawing and in photography.

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