Monthly Archives: March 2015

Wellcome Unit Seminars Monday 9th March

Join us for the final seminar of term!

Hilary Term 2015 Seminar Series

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Visual and Material Culture in the History of Medicine’
Conveners: Dr Erica Charters and Dr Sloan Mahone

Week 8 – 9 March

Matthew Landrus, University of Oxford

Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomy atlas, in the context of pre-Vesalian anatomical books

The discussion will examine Leonardo’s invention of an anatomy atlas, along with its context. For his first major scholarly contribution, he outlined in 1489 an ambitious project for a book that would explain the conception, growth, physical components, emotions, activities, movements, effects, and senses of man and woman. The components section, on “veins, nerves, muscles and bones,” compares with the medieval “five pictures series,” without the fifth picture, the arterial system. Otherwise, Leonardo’s “order of the book” is remarkably innovative for its holistic analysis of the human body and its actions. Expanding in twenty-four years to over 120 books, this project became an anatomy atlas of loose sheets and books that was praised by contemporaries for its extraordinary precision, information, and publishable quality. The extent to which this project was ready for publication deserves further attention, particularly with regard to its place among early sixteenth century anatomical books.

Dr Landrus’s research examines intersections of the practical arts and natural philosophy during the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries. As a specialist on the working methods and intellectual interests of artist/engineers, he addresses cross-disciplinary solutions to investigative and inventive developments in the histories of ideas, science and technology.

Much of this work addresses the histories of artisan notebooks and the art academy. Although a specialist on Leonardo da Vinci, he also studies Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, historiography, paradoxes in visual culture, and the histories of aesthetics, figural proportions and colonial culture.

His other work on Leonardo includes: Leonardo da Vinci’s Giant Crossbow (2010), Le armi e le macchine da guerra: il De re militari di Leonardo (2010), and The World of Leonardo da Vinci (2006). For an essay on the Codex Huygens, he studies what remains in this volume and in other records of Leonardo’s lost treatise on human proportions and movements. This is part of a larger project to reconstruct elements of Leonardo’s treatise programme, along with its context, development, form and organization. Two additional directions of this research extend to the uses of proportion theories in early modern visual and technical arts, as well as history of representations of human proportions.