Human Anatomy at Colby

Art and Anatomy Field Trip to Bowdoin College Art Museum

January 13, 2013 · No Comments

This past Thursday our Human Anatomy and Physiology class was given an opportunity to experience and learn anatomy through the artwork of the Bowdoin College Art Museum.  The works of art that we examined presented various anatomical features of the human body.  Carefully analyzing each piece, it was incredibly intriguing to find that so many pieces of art created by various ancient artists, revealed and glorified various parts of the human body.

One of the paintings, Rome (The Art Idea) by Elihu Vedder, displayed the Sartorius muscle and the gracilis muscle in a depiction of a man kneeling down in pain.  This man not only exhibited a great depiction of these two muscles, but also represented wisdom, or “sapienza.”  This is evident because the word “sapienza” is displayed beneath the man.  Perhaps this idea of wisdom representing anatomical features reveals the importance of studying the body’s science in Ancient Rome.


Another piece, St. Jerome in the Wilderness by Biagio d’Antonio da Firenze, depicts St. Jerome giving himself heart surgery.  In addition to this act, he also reveals the sternocleidomastoid muscle on his neck as he looks to heaven.  It seems as though he is creating an act of sacrifice for the gods.  Another aspect of this painting is the inaccurate depiction of his body, almost revealing a feminine look.  We learned that this feminine aspect is most likely a result of the time period of the piece being the fifteenth century and thus, showing male privates was considered inappropriate in artwork.

St. Jerome in the Wilderness

This visit not only helped our class understand and learn the body parts to a fuller extent but it also added the aspect of history and its relation to the study of human anatomy.  After having the opportunity to examine the various pieces of art, it became clear that from the art of Ancient Rome to the art of the renaissance and classical period, human anatomy has been of importance and glorified in all forms.

Categories: Lab · Special Activities
Tagged: ,