Images of Dissection

Medical dissection was significantly enhanced with the practices of Andreas Vesalius in the early 16th century and with the publication of his book, De Humanis Corporis Fabrica, Libri Septem (1543). He carefully dissected human cadavers, and in this book corrected many errors in previous anatomical texts.

This landmark book provides detailed sketches of human anatomy. On this title page the illustration shows practice of dissection with the atypical cadaver of a female criminal.

Dissection of hand

This exquisitely detailed dissection of a hand shows the techniques of the anatomist.

It is from The anatomy of humane bodies by William Cowper.

Dissection of man's throat

It was common for illustrators to show a person in a human pose holding open a portion of their body that had been dissected.

This image is from Estienne's 1546 anatomy book, De dissectione partium corporis humani libri tres.

Image of a woman's abdomen

This image from a 17th-century anatomy book by Juan Valverde is particularly evocative as the women holds open her dissected abdomen.

Her organs are displayed around her and a small baby can be seen in the lower left-hand corner.

Anatomy lecture room

In the mid 18th century, dissection was not always done by demonstration as seen in this image from Henry Hollingsworth Smith's Anatomical atlas.

Fascinating images of medical students and their cadavers are reproduced in Dissection: Photographs of a rite of passage in American medicine, 1880-1930 available at Falk Library.