- The anatomy lessons of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons
T.M. van Gulik
- Award date
- 20 June 2014
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
Mandatory lessons in anatomy, taught by the praelector anatomiae (lecturer in anatomy) of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons, were an important part of the surgical training starting in the 16th century. We describe how surgeons were trained approximately 350 years ago at the Surgeons’ Guild. The role of the surgeon’s shop, the Anatomy Theatre (Theatrum Anatomicum), and the final master-exam are discussed. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons commissioned several famous Dutch painters to paint their group portraits. An anatomy lesson was the main subject of these carefully assembled group portraits, in which the praelector, the surgeons, and the dissected corpse, all played a significant role. These masterpieces are referred to as ‘anatomy lessons’, and in this thesis, are appraised from an anatomical and surgical perspective. We investigated the background of these paintings by revisiting the original anatomy books, records, and regulations of the Surgeons’ Guild. With regard to the praelectores, we focus on their contributions to anatomical knowledge and surgical practice in that time. We question the anatomical structures that are shown in the paintings, to what extent these were depicted correctly, and what their meaning was within the entire composition. Some of the anatomical dissections represented in the paintings were reproduced in corpses at the anatomy department. The last section of this thesis deals with the heritage of the Surgeons’ Guild in Amsterdam. These include the unique collection of guild tokens and the painted coats of arms in the dome of the Theatrum Anatomicum at the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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