Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Dem bones": William Cheselden's Osteographia

From an NIH exhibit on historical anatomies comes these images of picturesquely arranged skeletons (a monkey and a nine-year-old boy), executed by William Cheselden in 1733. His opus was called Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones.
In 1733, William Chesleden published Osteographia, a grand folio edition depicting human and animal bones, featuring beautiful copperplate images, including playful skeletons, vignettes, and initials. He depicts all the bones of the human body separately in their actual life size "and again reduced in order to shew them united to one another." Cheselden and his engravers, Gerard van der Gucht and Mr. Shinevoet, employed a camera obscura to execute many of the images, and the practice is depicted in the title page vignette. 
Isn't the crocodile scene to die for? Here are a 1-year-old boy (brandishing a thigh bone for some reason) and the classic cat and dog combo.


Above: back view of a human skeleton and a deer skeleton. Below left: one of the initial capitals Chesleden used throughout the book.

Other types of anatomies: the 1834  La Medecine Pittoresque: Colored Medicine Plates; the classic Some Anatomies of Melancholy by Robert Burton, published in the early 1600s. 




12 comments:

  1. Subtitled: Little Boys Love To Play With Dead Things.

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  2. or "a funny thing happened on the way to the crematorium"?

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  3. I finally figured out what these remind me of: the battling skeletons in the old film Jason & the Argonauts.

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    1. Oh, I remember that scene--wasn't it Ray Harryhausen who did the special effects? That was a fun movie!
      Also, do you recall the movie "The Man With the X-ray Eyes"?

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    2. At first, he found his vision useful for seeing through clothing and diagnosing a patient. But he lost control of it and saw everyone like Bonesie (above). He couldn't sleep because he could see through his eyelids.
      (As explained in a Daedalus offering I have,"The Family that Couldn't Sleep", the brain must sleep or die.)
      In the film, Ray Milland claimed he could see God at the center of the universe. Unable to find peace, unable to see anything normally, he takes the Oedipus route.
      The Roger Corman flick was made for a song and won some sci-fi award.

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  4. Are we captioning?
    "Great diet pills. But I should've read the label."

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    1. Oh, we're always captioning. Good one!

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  5. Love the captions!!!

    Question,Is that a mythical giant leg propped up next to the human skeleton?

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  6. Achtung all skeleton fans: a movie that should not be missed - the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, a wonderful spoof of sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s.

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  7. Oh yippee; I added it to my Netflix list.

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