Thursday, 24 June 2010


It is utterly, absolutely extraordinary that for about a fiver I can buy a book of Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings.

They're the most wonderful work; it's not simply their beauty, they go far beyond that, his drawings of the skeleton are are the most explanatory pictures I've ever seen. The bones of the forearm, he shows me, cross one another like this as you rotate your wrist. The pelvis is this shape, and the bone of the thigh fits into the socket in this way. The spine is attached like so, and the ribs to the vertebrae like this, and this is what a skull is like, here is how it joins the neck and shoulders, this is how the shoulder moves. You can clearly see exactly how it works.

I remember a TV programme in which an experienced heart surgeon said that out of interest he had studied Leonardo's drawings of the heart; and his depiction of the way the blood flowed had inspired the surgeon to ask "Is it really just like that?" and to invent a better way of fitting replacement heart valves.

And for less than the price of lunch I can have this in my house. What extraordinary times we live in.


ghost said...

It's things like this that make me love life. You can buy books of art for next to nothing. Or surf the net and see so much art for free. Galleries around the world will cooperate and create travelling exhibitions of Van Gogh, Monet and so forth.


And anatomical diagrams have changed the way I am. My rib cage is flexible?! Well that makes breathing a lot more interesting

msHedgehog said...

@ghost - about the ribcage - what?

ghost said...

For a long time I thought my ribcage was a fixed cage of bone. I thought it was the muscles around it that could expand or contract. It came as quite a surprise to find out that the ribcage has a degree of flexibility and can actually expand and contract.

I was looking over old posts last night and found a thread where a group of dancers considered hiring someone to teach us anatomy from a dancer's perspective as sort of a group private lesson. We never actually got around to arranging it though.

msHedgehog said...


ghost said...

Most of my life I've done eastern breathing "from the abdomen" so my ribcage never really moved much. It's taken about 2 years practice to get to the point where I breathe naturally with my ribs and apparently I no longer feel like "dancing with a corpse" :S

On a completely different angle I once did a full size portrait of a person's face working with anatomy drawings. I did the skull first, then painted on the various layers until I finished with the skin.

Probably be fun to do the same with a full scale body sometime.