Standing in a slight contrapposto, the man turns his head to his left, his right arm follows along the body with the thumb and index finger joined, the left arm is slightly open. This superb bronze flaying rests on a later base made of two types of marble: Sienna marble and antique green marble.
From the 16th century onwards, an unprecedented interest in anatomy developed in Italy, mixing science and art in an unprecedented way. This rediscovery of anatomy implied many changes, especially concerning the almost "cartoonish" vision of the human body, inherited from ancient medicine. During the previous centuries, physicians and physicists believed that diseases resulted from an imbalance of the four humors constituting the body: blood, lymph, yellow bile and black bile. With this view of medicine, anatomy played a very limited role due to a general misunderstanding of the role of the organs, the blood circulation system and a lack of knowledge of basic chemistry. But thanks to this new interest in anatomy from the 14th century and especially during the 16th century, a new science of healing developed based on a principle that we find in our modern medicine: if an organ is sick, then the treatment must be applied to that organ rather than to the body as a whole.
This scientific revolution was also observed, as is often the case, in artistic creation. Let us recall that at this time the manuscripts formerly copied by the clergy were transformed into printed works and the technological revolution of printing allowed for a rapid and international production and diffusion of works. Being a science that requires the description of visual forms, anatomy needs images, especially images that can be reproduced with the precision of a print. This is one of the reasons for the involvement of artists. If printers and engravers were at first the major actors of this strange and unique interdisciplinary collaboration, some artists ended up becoming anatomists themselves: allowing them to develop an anatomical reality in their creations. Creating, independently of any medicine, anatomical images sometimes more advanced and precise than those produced by professional anatomists. It was not until the middle of the 16th century that "hard" science took over and gained total control over anatomical illustrations.
It is with great names like Michelangelo and especially da Vinci that the interest of artists for anatomy reaches its zenith: artist and complete scientist, Leonardo makes many discoveries thanks to dissections, which allow him to refute ancient theories until then in place. As for Michelangelo, he studied anatomy exclusively to perfect his art but pushed his knowledge of the muscular system to the extreme. The study of muscles and skeletons becomes, from this moment on, an important part of the artists' training: a good knowledge of the human body for a better representation in art.
As said before, scientists ended up assuming a dominant role in anatomical illustration. To name but one: Andreas Vasalius, a scientist who studied medicine in Paris and Italy, published De humani corporis fabrica (About the manufacture of the human body) in Basel in 1543. This work was the foundation of modern anatomy and contributed to the evolution of the representation of man and living beings. In addition to its scientific content, which revolutionized medicine, what makes this treatise exceptional is the fact that its author, although a scientist by training, supervised the illustrations made for his work: thus combining artistic quality with scientific rigor and precision. Illustrated by several artists such as students of Titian, Jan Calcar or Vasalius himself, this work is still considered today as one of the most beautiful books in the world thanks to the quality of its illustration plates. One of them represents a flayed man, standing in a bucolic landscape, without skin, thus revealing his entire muscular system. This seminal work marks the beginning of a new period in medical science, but also appears to be the culmination of scientific thought dating back to the 14th century.
The popularity of the work is also measured by the number of plagiarisms and partial copies that follow. Until the end of the 17th century, the majority of anatomy treatises included parts of texts and illustrations copied or inspired by the Fabrica. The plate of the écorché does not escape it and to quote only one: Gaspar Becerra realizes around 1556 a very similar écorché to illustrate the work of the Spanish Juan de Valverde de Amusco, Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano. Through the creation and distribution of these copies, the representation of the flayed man became standardized: a man standing, head raised and turned, one arm open and the other holding the piece of skin from the thigh that he had just torn off.
Initially confined to engravings and drawings of illustrations, the theme of the flayed man reached other areas of artistic creation over time, notably small bronze statues that were used as models for anatomical studies for students and apprentice artists. In the 18th and 19th centuries, interest in the écorché evolved: it became an object of curiosity. The anatomical precision of the muscular system was sometimes diminished in favor of aestheticism, bronze was favored to create objects of quality and prestige and above all the postures could vary (archer releasing an arrow, a flayed man philosophizing on his own existence, an athlete at rest...).
Our écorché is to be placed in this period of transition in the vision, representation and understanding of the human body. A perfect example of the object that intrigued collectors, it is striking for the great finesse of its chasing and its realism.
Delevery information :
Please note that packing and shipping costs are not included in the price of the objects which are quoted ex shop.
Final amount including packing and shipment to be discussed with Galerie Alexandre Piatti.
12 000 €
12 000 €