Archive for May 5th, 2008

Minagaki’s anatomy

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Yasukazu Minagaki was an early 19th c. physician who made amazingly detailed and realistic anatomical paintings of executed criminals he had dissected.

Unlike his Western colleagues, Minagaki didn’t truck with no idealized Vitruvian forms. He was paintbrush-deep in the gruesome reality of decapitated bodies.

The Kaibo Sonshinzu is a collection of color anatomical drawings on two scrolls by Minagaki Yasukazu, a doctor of the late Edo Period. The collection was intended to cover inadequacies in the results of dissections conducted by Koishi Genshun, a doctor from Kyoto. Taking the Western-style anatomies of the German doctor Johann Adam Kulmus and others that appeared in Anatomische Tabellen as a reference, the collection is significant in that it includes illustrations by the doctor himself based on observations of individual organs from more than 40 bodies. Containing 83 illustrations, it is said to be the best collection of anatomical drawings by a Japanese hand from the early 19th Century.

I’d say it’s one of the best collections of anatomical drawings by any hand from pretty much any century.

For more anatomical drawings from the Kaibo Sonshinzu scrolls, see here and here.

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