16 Side of Neck and Floor of Mouth

Title: Side of Neck and Floor of Mouth

Artist/ Source: Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

Date: circa. 1850

Medium/ Technique: Black, white and red chalk

UCL Art Museum #4801


In this drawing, Lister used tinted paper, typically used by artists to enable their use of white chalk to highlight the anatomical figure and improve the three-dimensionality of their chalk renderings. Here Lister employs the contrast between the paper and white chalk to indicate the separation between venous (white) and arterial systems (red).

The drawing appears to be from a high perspective, recapitulating the cadaver’s placement below the anatomist on the dissecting table. The body of the dissected figure becomes especially present through the device common to Vesalius and Lister, threatening to enter the viewer’s space and thus becoming all more immediate, cultivating awareness of the intrusive acts of both looking and dissection.

Relating to artistic studies of movement and the passions and Quain’s expressive anatomical illustrations, the neck extends and the head turns left in a position relating to the passion of agony and ecstasy. The extension of the neck in this drawing also produces a corpse that seems to bend to the will of the anatomist, complacently revealing itself to the anatomist’s probing gaze. Lister’s corpse, though rendered morbid by the fragmentation of the anatomist’s flaying and by Lister’s cropped image, still retains a vital force and, as such, is a living anatomy.

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