8 Twenty-six Anatomical Studies of the Arm and Hand

Title: Twenty-six Anatomical Studies of the Arm and Hand

(from Bernhard Siegfried Albinus, Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani, Knapton edition)

Artist/Source: Louise-Philippe Boitard (active 1734 – 1760)

Date: 1749

Medium/ Technique: engraving

UCL Art Museum #4173

This large engraving from the English translation of Albinus’s illustrated treatise Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani contains twenty-six studies of the arm, most of the hand and its movement. The hand has been a subject of fascination for artists and anatomists for centuries. The hand is central to human function; it has become symbolic of the separation between man and animal, since the human opposable thumb allows humans to use tools and engage in complex activities. The symbolic power of the hand is evident in its employment as a site of the physician’s intellectual prowess, as in Rembrandt’s The Anatomy of Dr. Tulp (see in this pack). Notable in this plate are the especially elegant positions of the hand.

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