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January 20, 1993

The Fabric of the Body: European Traditions of Anatomical Illustration

JAMA. 1993;269(3):416. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500030118049

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The history of anatomical illustration has been curiously neglected. As long ago as 1920, Mortimer Frank, a Chicago physician, published his translation from the German of Ludwig Choulant's 1852 treatise on the subject. It is startling to realize that, until the present work, there has been nothing on a comparable scale since.

Roberts and Tomlinson, therefore, are to be congratulated on breaking the wall of silence and producing a handsome, scholarly, and much needed work. Much has happened in the field since Choulant's day. Anatomic and medical art underwent a second flowering in the late 19th and 20th centuries, until now practically unrecorded, in works such as the atlases of Spalteholz, Sobotta, Pernkopf, and Grant, and in the individual talents of such artists as Frank Netter and Max Brödel. It is gratifying to see these contributions assigned their appropriate place in the long line of development dating from medieval times.