Monday, May 23, 2011

New Book (In English!!!) About Honoré Fragonard's Incredible 18th Century Anatomical Ecorchés!

If the Founding Fathers wanted to visit Body Worlds they could have. Or pretty darn close, at least - they just needed to visit one of the many European cabinets of anatomical curiosities, to see the work of anatomists like Honore Fragonard.

Fragonard's eighteenth-century ecorches were the clear precursors to Gunther von Hagens' "Body Worlds" exhibits: preserved, injected, partially dissected bodies in lifelike, dramatic poses, with ragged strips of muscle draped like primitive clothing over exposed vessels and nerves. The effect is eerie - like a Vesalius illustration sprung to (half-)life... --Bioephemera, "If the Founding Fathers wanted to visit Body Worlds..."
Much has been said--and rightfully!--about the "uncanny similarity" (as one might charitably say) between the anatomical works of Body Worlds' impresario Gunther von Hagens and the 18th Century allegorical anatomical ecorchés of Honoré Fragonard, cousin of well-known rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Bioephemera says it very very well today--as quoted above--and follows with a really nice, extensive review of the new, wonderful, lavishly illustrated Blast Books publication Fragonard Museum: The Ecorches.

To read the entire post on the Bioephemera website--very much recommended!--click here. To order a copy of the book for your very own--also highly recommended!--click here.

The specimens you see above -- and more! -- are housed in the amazing Le Musée de l’Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort (née Musée Fragonard) right outside of Paris; to find out more about that museum, click here. Images as credited; to see more images from the Musée, click here. To visit the museum website, click here.

Image credits and captions:
  • Top image: Fragonard's Horseman, found here.
  • Second image: Fragonard's man with the mandible, inspired by Samson smiting the Philistines with an ass's jaw, found here.
All other images from the Bioephemera post. Captions, top to bottom:
  • Nilgai/Doe of the Indies
  • Human Bust
  • Human Bust
  • Installation view of The Musee Fragonard

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