Cololurful print mounted on fabric with a varnish on top, depicts a group of seven surgeons looking on as physician Nicolaes Tulp leads an anatomy lesson on a cadaver; unframed.
Number Of Parts
Acquired from the Academy of Medicine.
ink: brown, cream, black
Storage Room 2005
Unit Of Measure
Zygmont, Bryon. “Rembrant, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp.” Khan Academy. Accessed February 23, 2017. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/monarchy-enlightenment/baroque-art1/holland/a/rembrandt-the-anatomy-lesson-of-dr-tulp
The original portrait, painted by Dutch Baroque Rembrandt van Rijn in 1632, depicts a group of seven surgeons looking on as physician Nicolaes Tulp leads an anatomy lesson. It was commissioned to hang in the board room of the Guild of Surgeons, a group that Tulp had become a reader of three years before. Tulp is shown as the only man wearing a hat, showing his elevated position over his pupil, as he demonstrates how arm muscles are attached to the body using forceps. He was known to give theory lessons twice a week in Amsterdam with one public autopsy a year being conducted. The painting shows the 1632 autopsy that used the body of a criminal, an executed thief named Adriaen het Kint as their cadaver. The surgeon in the centre towards the back holds a sheet of paper that lists the names of all the men in participating in the lesson, many of whom would have paid for the honor of being included in the composition.
Though it was one of Rembrandt’s earlier works, The Anatomy Lesson remains one of his most well-known paintings; the skill is evident in the expressive, recognizable faces of the surgeons and the dynamic contrast between light and dark. Rembrandt does, however, some artistic liberties, particularly as the surgeon would have begun with opening the chest cavity in an autopsy as opposed to beginning with an arm.
This was also one of the first painting that Rembrandt signed with his forename as opposed to RHL which he had used on previous ones, likely showing his increasing confidence in his artistic abilities.
The work in our collection is a hand-painted copy made with oil on canvas, likely with a varnish on top (this would have to be confirmed by a conservationist however). We can assume this as the weave of the canvas is evident and the corners have some paint flaking off, but also there are small details of the copy that vary from the original.