Dr. Aaron Ament
Instructor, Cadaver Lab Supervisor
Department of Biology
Minot State University
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt. This 1632 oil painting on canvas shows Dr. Tulp, a Dutch surgeon and the mayor of Amsterdam demonstrating a dissection of the left forearm and palm. The book in the lower right corner is likely the 1543 De Humane Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius. The corpse is Aris Kindt, who was convicted for armed robbery and hanged—then dissected later that same day. It was common at the time to strictly limit cadaver dissection to executed criminals and sometimes unclaimed bodies. A close examination of the navel reveals the shape of a capital letter "R"—the signature of the artist (who was 26 at the time). The poster on the back wall is also signed and dated by the artist. Rembrandt incorrectly painted the flexor compartment muscles originating off the lateral epicondyle of the humerus instead of the medial epicondyle.
—See Wikipedia for more info.
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