Skip to comments.Leonardo da Vinciís Groundbreaking Drawings of the Unborn
Posted on 01/28/2013 2:59:58 PM PST by NYer
Between 15010 and 1512, Leonardo da Vinci drew the human fetus with startling and unprecedented accuracy.
According to Arizona State Univeristy’s Embryo Project Encyclopedia, Leonardo is regarded as “the very first in history to correctly depict the human fetus in its proper position within the womb. He was also the first to expertly draw the uterine artery and the vascular system of the cervix and vagina.”
Scientific advances, beginning with Leonardo and culminating in the ultrasound, have played no small part in helping us recognize the fetus’ human face. These chalk and ink images, then, should be seen as a minor milestone in the acknowledgment of our brotherhood with the unborn.
So we gaze at that embryo, curled up and small. It is human latency, powerfully contained and powerfully expressed. It is an old man's contemplation of the primacy of human life.
Leonardo's unrelenting belief that truth is revealed in nature brought him at last to the ultimate act of human creativity. In an odd way, that tiny human form, curled up in a ball, about to flower into the world, might be one of the most powerful images Leonardo left for us.
And, seeing that child, we know that Leonardo's search for external truth has led, at last, to a far more internal truth. We know that he's reached a truth not only deep within the human body -- but deep within his own psyche as well. ref
Going out on a limb here, but the only ways someone of that century could know the fetal position is to have had a very friendly and agreeable pregnant lady ... or he had an opportunit to see or be witness to an autopsy of a pregnant cadaver
DaVinchi studied medicine for several years in his youth.
Wow thank you what amazing work.
Maybe Leonardo was combatting the pro-murder ghouls of his day, as well.
Cadavers. I’m guessing that’s where all the sketches of muscle groups, organs, circulatory systems etc came from during those and later years, before modern medicine’s CAT/MRI techniques.
Leonardo regularly drew cadavers as a part of his study of the anatomy.
Although illegal at the time, it was not uncommon for artist and scientist to perform autopsies on the deceased poor.
Actually, in da Vinci's day, dissecting dead bodies was frowned upon and often conducted in secrecy. For medical students, there was the option of the anatomy theater. Picture a room crammed full of medical students. A smelly, decomposing corpse lies on a table as students in the amphitheaterlike room crane their necks to see it. One man begins to autopsy the corpse as another man, not necessarily within view of the body, reads from a classic anatomy text. As most of the students aren't even close enough to see them, the man doing the autopsy skips over nerves and other small structures. More importantly, it is the text that rules the day both men teach to the text, whether or not it matches up with what they find in the actual body in front of them.
It is this disconnect that Leonardo da Vinci resolved to overcome. He would crack the code of the body in front of him observing it, probing it, cutting into it, investigating it. He would study its inner structures to determine the body's most intricate inner functions. And he hoped that in doing so, he would find whatever it is that makes people truly alive: the soul.
The man was a revolutionary. Da Vinci's meticulous, detailed drawings of the human body were unlike anything anyone had ever seen. He sketched the skull from different angles after injecting the brain with hot wax to see its ventricles, used wires and threads attached to a skeleton's bones to understand human movement and heated a cow's eyeballs in egg yolks in order to section them.
Anatomical theatre, Leiden.
Leonardo used cadavers in his anatomical studies.
That the Church banned or looked down upon autopsies is urban legend. The Church actually didn’t care that much and several popes during that era actually ordered autopsies on those with suspicious deaths. This urban legend has been propagated by those who insist that religion is anti-science.
That is a blob of tissue:
Who are you going to believe: moon bat libtard or Da Vinci ?
Actually, he had clandestine access to the morgue - where he would, in the wee hours, dissect cadavers...which he did
I remember reading somewhere that Leonardo came up with hard boiling the eye so that it would withstand dissection.
His baby looks like a little man...Like curious Benjamin Button.
Wrong on content, and in my case, wrong on motive.
Just because there was a prohibition on something in the the Renaissance didn’t mean that it did not take place, even in a Church-sanctioned context. The Church did in fact take the sanctity of the body very seriously and had a prohibition on autopsy through the Renaissance. Seeing as the Church was also the primary focus of research in the area of natural philosophy- it undertook such studies and contributed to the expansion of knowledge of anatomy. This is evidenced in many works for the period, not the least of which, Leonardo’s. There remains the fact however, that the Church and clergy in their role as mortician, did make available cadavers for study, and these were not drawn from the ranks of the aristocracy. This was in no way “public” knowledge at the time.
Being a faithful practicing Roman Catholic myself, my motivation in clarifying these facts has nothing to do with trying to paint the Church as anti-science. I will argue though, that the Church did, during the Renaissance and even in the intellectual and cultural capital of Florence, both project itself as the keeper and protector of divinely revealed truth while at the same time engaging in positivism. I say this not to disparage the effort of knowing God through His creation by the natural philosophy, but to acknowledge the realities of the time. A Florentine of the Renaissance did not see the Church as a bastion of Science.
I still have the book LEONARDO DA VINCI ON THE HUMAN BODY I bought fifty years ago. It has most of his drawings on anatomy in it.
Worn, tattered, used up, back falling off. Kind of like me.