The Anatomy Lesson

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Amsterdam’s Surgeon’s Guild commissioned “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” in 1632. This oil painting by the Dutch master Rembrandt displays Dr. Tulp in the midst of his annual public dissection of a corpse—the body of Aris Kindt, a man executed earlier that day by hanging.

The Anatomy Lesson looks deeply into the very soul of this painting to get at the story behind this lesson: that “before he became the centerpiece of this anatomy lesson, someone had cared for that man.” Thus begins the tale of “The Body,” “The Hands,” “The Heart,” “The Mouth,” “The Mind,” and “The Eyes.” Each section takes on a different perspective to provide the reader with the complete history behind a scene so thoughtfully depicted by “The Eyes” of Rembrandt. “The Body” goes back to Aris’s childhood, recounting the unfortunate events that led to his execution. In contrast, “The Heart” is filled with the emotions of Flora, who cares for Aris and vainly tries to save his life.

Intermingled with the modern observations of a conservator’s notes, The Anatomy Lesson causes us to pause and see beyond the brush strokes into the possibility of a man who could be “restored with beauty and love and light” through art.


Reviewed By:

Author Nina Siegal
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 288 pages
Publisher Anchor
Publish Date 2014-Dec-02
ISBN 9780804169233
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2015
Category Historical Fiction
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