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En-gendering exemplarity in early modern anatomical illustration and the fine arts: dis- and dys-identifications of the anatomical/pictorial model as male.

Sixteenth-century anatomy books--e.g. Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (Basel, 1543), Charles Estienne's De dissectione partium corporis humani (Paris, 1545) and Juan Valverde de Hamusco's Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano (Rome, 1556)--testify to the early modern belief in the scientific salience of the physician's direct engagement with human dissection ('anatomy') as the true grounding of any medical knowledge of the human body. By comparing anatomical illustration with cognate representations in the contemporary fine arts I aim to address the ideological underside of the early modern anatomical project, with its intertwined 'en-gendering' (Teresa de Lauretis) of anatomical universality and heroism/exemplarity as male. My provisional results suggest the silencing of alternative, female, models of exemplarity lest the patriarchal grounding of the Renaissance confidence in the 'newly reborn man' be shaken, a silencing whose ideological ramifications extend to the present.

This investigation draws upon the theoretical insights of a collective volume, The Violence of Representation: Literature and the History of Violence: simply stated, representations of violence conceal their violence of representing subject and object positions. (1) In the case of early modern anatomy, not only is the physical violence against the admittedly dead body downplayed, but the condition of the very subjects of dissection is altered beyond (self-)recognition, with consequences for the advent of the early modern autoptic vision (in Jonathan Sawday's terms) (2) W. B. Gudykunst (ed.), and its impact on the collective imaginary.

1. En-Gendering the Subject for Anatomy in Early Modernity: From the Classical Body to Female Promiscuity and the Male Subject of Penology

Early modern anatomy book illustration seemingly represents the human body as a fully-fledged subject, though this can hardly be deemed one in the agentive sense dear to Western epistemology, considering both the oddity of re-morphing its dead condition to lively poses, and especially, as Sawday (1) wryly observes, the 'violent "reduction" into parts' which anatomisation is. Despite their typically humble social origins, (3) the subjects of early modern anatomy are often featured in socially elevated postures, or socially neutral at best, yet classically beautiful. (4) A pictorial convention which draws upon the Belvedere torso to model the bidimensional image sculptural is already apparent in Vesalius: his Fabrica inaugurated the tradition of the limb cross-sestion fashioned as ruptured classical marble statue limbs (Vesalius 465, 478, 559; cf. Valverde 108). As I show in 'The Time Is out of Joint' (11), Gerard de Lairesse's 'portraiture' in Govard Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis (Amsterdam, 1685) and its Dutch translation, Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams (1690), evokes a classical past of corporeal harmony rather than musculature proper: plates 1 (male) and 2-3 (female) show the body in postures reminiscent respectively of Apollo Belvedere and Venus pudica capitolina (but for the ancient Venus's modest gesture). Elsewhere the flap of a stripped muscle, often juxtaposed with exuberant poses (Vesalius (5) 187; Casserio, plates 15, 16; Browne, (6) fol. 91 tab. 14), can obliterate the ecorche's anatomised condition to render him/her a playful participant in the autoptic game. Such images intimate that the anatomist's/artist's penetrating gaze un-covers the body beautiful--though, in practical terms, not for the medical students' benefit; they moreover transmute the reality of dissection and of the subjects' possibly diseased bodies into classically beautiful and healthy-looking exemplars. Anatomy--as both dissection and the 'body-as-knowledge' (Wilson 63) (7)--had never been so tamed as to enthrall the curious yet occlude the reality of death and dissection in order to achieve its epistemological aim: identifying and then introducing 'general anatomical and physiological principles' (Park 7) to the public.

Ironically, there is more to this unnaturally lively, self-proffering, autoptic ecorche, as can be noticed already in the title page of Vesalius's Fabrica, an engraving otherwise rightly celebrated for its metaphorical and theatricalised statement of the purpose and means of early modern anatomy (Sawday 66-72). I am interested here in the her-story of the actual subject of dissection, a woman, strategically held to provide a rationale for the anatomical quest:

'It is the body of a woman,' said Vesalius, 'who, in fear of being hanged had falsely declared herself pregnant'. However, by order of the judge she was interrogated by the midwives who declared her not at all pregnant, and presumably after her execution the body was handed over for anatomical purposes on order of the judge of the criminal court, at the time Marcantonio Contarini. (C. D. O'Malley, qtd. in Daly and Bell, 190)

To begin with, Vesalius lays down explicitly one of the criteria for selecting the object (8) of anatomical scrutiny: the cadaver of the felon (Daly and Bell 190). Then, it is not just any felony that renders someone's body the most likely choice, but rather a crime which can easily yield to 'metamorphosis by looking' (in James Elkins's terms), viz. abstract reductionism so as to reference exemplarity: (9) with respect to Vesalius's explanation, S. L. Gilman cogently argues that 'the opening of the most degraded of women ... permits insight into the nature of all women' (qtd. in Daly and Bell 189). (10) The title page of the Fabrica thus inaugurated the tradition of showing the 'icon of the wise and aged male anatomy professor cutting open the body of an always-younger dead prostitute in the frontispiece of many "modern" anatomical texts' (Daly and Bell 191). (11)

Nonetheless, the aged male sage had been anticipated in Charles Estienne's De dissectione, co-authored with anatomist Estienne de la Riviere, (12) whose recycled images (13) speak to a gendered representation of the erstwhile impenetrable mystery of human 'vocations.' As I have argued in 'Early Modern Brave New World?' (17-8) and 'The Time Is out of Joint' (11-12), the voyeuristic mise-en-scene of a number of plates implicates that the anatomist's gaze (Estienne, plates 242, 275) is also intent on shedding light on the 'curiosity' of both female fecundity and male-qua-human criminality. There are just as consistent intimations of sexual promiscuity in the Venus/courtesan posture of the female model (Estienne, plates 267, 271, 279, 281, 285), who may or not have been a prostitute, as there is a consistent judicial setting with a penological note for the male model (plates 236, 237, 239, 241). Anatomy has a story to tell beyond mere biological physicality.

2. En-Gendering the Anatomical Model: The (Self-Flaying) Ecorche-Marsyas and the Pregnant Body of the New World

Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century medical writing from Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and the Netherlands suggests, according to Michael Stolberg, a 'growing and, by the early seventeenth century, dominant belief in anatomical difference between the sexes ... [and] the growing interest in the peculiar features of the female skeleton' (276). (14) Such dimorphism was first and foremost articulated (in both senses) in pelvic bone differences, which were regarded as able to explain women's capacity--and were later used to press the (social) duty--of motherhood (Stolberg 276-81, 295-9). However, by far the major distinction represented pictorially was that of the reproductive organs. It has rightly been observed that all the female subjects of early modern anatomy books are represented as young pregnant women often in the gravida pose, which is a pictorial naturalization of the societal imperative for women under Christian patriarchy. In all other respects, the 'human' body of early modern anatomical illustration was male by default, as it has remained to the present day (cf. Johnson 146, 150-6) in the supremacist and globalized discursive practices of science. (15)

In other words, early modern anatomy books proffered a reductionist male-qua-human view of the body, even as they were harnessed to the project of un-covering the 'truth' of the human body: 'ad uerae Anatomes cognitione' (Vesalius 4r). Perhaps a further example is in order. Musculature in such books is often represented--in the global body image--as the ecorche, or muscle man (sic); furthermore, in Vesalius (179, 187), the ecorche proffers himself as the subject of autoptic knowledge. (16) A momentous representation of the ecorche appears on page 64 in Valverde's Historia (1556): Spanish artist Gaspar Becerra drew on Michelangelo's Bartholomew, in part due to his first-hand familiarity with and long-lasting admiration for the Last Judgement (Boubli 218-23), even as Becerra's muscle man holds a dagger in his lowered left hand, thus conflating Marsyas (no longer a satyr!) and Apollo (Sawday 186). The self-flayed ecorche in Valverde afforded an influential pose indeed, which recurred in the frontispiece of several subsequent anatomy books (Eknoyan and De Santo 267). In fact, anatomists and their artists often used Marsyas as the prototype for ecorches, (17) hence as shorthand for anatomy and its in-sight (sic) into the human body. (18)

Furthermore, the Michelangelesque ecorche in Valverde's anatomy book gave an unexpected twist to the representation of the Ovidian story in the fine arts (Bohde 25-34). Becerra's drawing influenced German artist Melchior Meier in depicting his Marsyas--in Apollo, Marsyas, and the Judgement of Midas (1581/2; New York, Metropolitan Art Museum), a conflation of the Marsyas with the Pan episodes of the Metamorphoses--as a completely skinned ecorche whose skin Apollo shows to Midas. Suspended as it is with the rope from a tree, Marsyas's human left leg is forced in a pose molded on the suspended cadaver's ever since Vesalius, itself a grim allusion to the gibbet as the lawful source of bodies for anatomy. (19) The hand wielding the scalpel identities Apollo unmistakably as/with the anatomist. Meier's work, in its turn, inspired Johannes Stradanus's (Jan van der Straet) drawing of Marsyas as flayed muscle man (1580s), engraved by Theodoor Galle as the Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1580-1600; Rotterdam, Boymans van Beuningen Museum). (20) Marsyas and the ecorche, like Renaissance art and anatomy, extol and illuminate the 'work of art' which man (sic) is. Man--in a narrow sense and with multiple ramitications.

On the other hand, early modern anatomy and body knowledge so derived should also be regarded, as Jonathan Sawday (6, 9-10, 17-28) cogently notes, in terms of colonization and by analogy with the practice of geographical discovery and exploration/exploitation. The metaphorical intertwining of the exploits of Goddess Anatomia's male disciples and those of the male explorers of the New World is no figment of scholarly imagination, as is attested by Odoardo Fialetti's title page of an anatomy book by Giulio Casserio (c. 1552-1616), published posthumously also as Anatomische Tafeln (Frankfurt, 1656). Medical qua masculine self-assurance as evinced by the five anatomists seated around the dissesting table as if for scholarly debate, yet posing for the viewer in advertent postures, and the penchant for discovery implicit in the America-centered globe atop the cabinet with dissection instruments make academically palatable the rhetoric of mastery deployed by anatomists and explorers alike. (21) As I show in 'Early Modern Brave New Worlds?' (19), such rhetoric obliterates its lethal effects apparent in the echoing of the globe in the ecorche head and the skull--on those held legally impotent, e.g. the poor, the 'savage' of America or Africa, and women, represented here by and as the cadaver with veiled face in a Venus posture. Fialetti's New World in the guise of a veiled young woman laid bare for exploratory dissection of the lower torso and/as pregnant womb by white elderly males translates a supremacist view of the other as essentially a (female) body open to colonizing penetration. It moreover accounts for the unprecedented status anatomy gained in early modernity: a powerful metaphor for research and discovery in general, anatomy, with its proclivity for 'uncovering the hidden, inner truths', epitomized, however, the 'violent and extreme' underside of curiosity (Egmond and Zwijnenberg 5; see also Sawday 1-2, 24-5). Fialetti's suggestion is not a far cry from the Venus pose in Estienne: in either case, the female body, whether or not also in metaphorical terms, is colonized by the male gaze/hand/scalpel for the epistemologico-political benefit of a deeply patriarchal humankind, or indeed, mankind.

3. Un-Covering the Silent/-Ced Remainder of Exemplarity and Universality: Marsyas, Arachne, Philomela

There is more, however, to this collusion of masculinity, maleness and the making of the human body in the early modern production of knowledge than meets the eye. What the exemplary body of anatomy conceals is the operation of power to produce knowledge (Foucault 51-2; Daly and Bell 192): the very co-operation of anatomist and artist in imaging body-knowledge as also bolstered by the art school curriculum (22) was in no little measure responsible for the circulation of intellectual energies (to rephrase Stephen Greenblatt's metaphor) which tacitly made Marsyas into an exemplar of knowledge acquisition and Apollo into its transcendental guarantor. Refashioned into a story of learning, the Ovidian narrative of anatomizing the guilty individual's body could thus occlude the stakes of knowledge-production, thereby mystifying the socio-political and epistemological stakes of the scientific pursuit. Ovid's story of Marsyas in the Metamorphoses (6.382-400) became an epistemic pre-text, often in allegorized translation, not only for Charles Estienne's penological tenor of the illustration of male anatomy in his De dissectione, but also for eliding the anatomists' reasons for and the social circumstances of choosing that particular dead body, the felon's, as the subject of anatomy. Apollo himself was 'reduced' to the convenient position of the god of rationally devised, albeit empirical, knowledge, and was never seen in his irrational excessiveness and vengefulness. (23) Exploratory dissection, like geographical exploration, rendered the early modern 'age of discovery' a culture of dissection (Sawday, viii) whose epistemic burden, however, was acquired through violent penetration of the dead body and the metaphorical body of land alike.

With this, we reach yet another salient aspect of early modernity: the intertwined 'en-gendering' (Teresa de Lauretis, 240), or gendered production, (24) of anatomical universality and of heroism/exemplarity as male. In the former case, as we have seen, anatomical illustration is a patent example of the metonymical extension of maleness as human. In the 'heroic' case, the ecorche-Marsyas of Gaspar Becerra in Valverde's anatomy book and the Marsyas-ecorche in Melchior Meier's engraving of the Ovidian story converge on representing exemplarity as male: whether hubristic (satyr) character or, for the Renaissance, audacious (artist) figure, Marsyas has become one of the indisputable heroes of Western artistic imagination. How often, by comparison, has Arachne, the consummate female weaver and challenger of Athena, been represented textually or pictorially to be offered as a (positive) model? An interest in the Arachne story per se is rather rare in the West: Jacopo Tintoretto's Athena and Arachne (c. 1575; Florence, Uffizi), Paolo Veronese's Arachne or Dialestics (1575-7; Venice, Palazzo Ducale), Peter Paul Rubens's Pallas and Arachne (1636-7; Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), Diego Velazquez's Las Hilanderas (c. 1656/7; Madrid, Prado), aka The Fable of Arachne, The Spinners or The Tapestry Weavers, (25) and Luca Giordano's Minerva and Arachne (c. 1695; Madrid, El Escorial) have relatively few companion pieces (26) apart from illustrations to printed translations of the Metamorphoses, e.g. the engraving by Johann Wilhelm Baur (1607-42) reissued in the Nuremberg edition of the Metamorphoses (1703; Book 6, p. 55) and the Illustration to Ovid: The Death of Arachne (London, Tate Gallery) by Thomas Carwitham (active 1713-33). Sharing the space of the same Book 6 of the Metamorphoses (6.1145), Arachne is to a large extent Marsyas's female counterpart, or even the better of him, since her hubristic assertiveness does not merely strive to outdo Pallas Athena in skill but exposes the gods' iniquity towards humans and especially their proclivity for raping women. Likewise, how often has Arachne been represented textually (27) or pictorially as a model by comparison with Philomela, the other female weaver of Book 6 (6.401-674)? (28) Indeed, Ovid's Philomela story is regarded as the paradigmatic case of female victimization and final muting through unspeakable violence against her body--a body turned metonymically into a vulnus/wound (6.643)--by rape and tongue-severing, yet also as an example of self-empowerment through reinventing her tongue and, according to Renaissance and Baroque artists, her wild revenge. Images of Tereus approaching Philomela with rapist intent, e.g. the engravings for Les Metamorphoses d'Ovide en latin et francois, divisees en XV livres (trans. Pierre du-Ryer Parisien, 1677) and those by J. W. Baur (Nuremberg, 1703, Book 6, 59), as well as engravings of the tongue severing, e.g. Vergilius Solis's woodcut, The Rape of Philomela (1563/1581, fol. 80r, image 6; Frankfurt, Johann Postius von Gemersheim Museum), are all the more striking as they are exceptional. Typically, Philomela's rape and mutilation/muting are displaced pictorially by the scene of the innocent son's mutilation, e.g. the engravings of Philomela and Procne showing Itys's head to Tereus by J. W. Baur (Nuremberg, 1703, Book 6, 60) and Antonio Tempesta for a sixteenthcentury edition of the Metamorphoses, or a like treatment by Rubens in his Tereus Confronted with the Head of His Son Itylus (c. 1636-8; Madrid, Prado). Not the man is the one shown performing masculinity as aggressiveness towards the disempowered, but rather the woman/women is/are shown performing femininity as treacherous, violent, wildly pro-cannibalistic vengeance. (29)

Marsyas may be a martyr for a cause, albeit often deemed hubristic, yet his anatomization by the god of rationality and light must have been sensed, as it was in the Renaissance, (30) as more germane to artists' and anatomists' aspirations to fame than Arachne's unflattering tapestry of the divine/ masculine aggressive performance of power could ever be. The flaying of Marsyas revealed the beauty of body-knowledge, even as it subtly vindicated abuses of power once they had been rationalised as righteous. On the contrary, Arachne's exposure of divine abuses was inconceivable as a key to (beautiful) knowledge, let alone as the subaltern's--mortal's and woman's--self-empowerment through fashioning a voice of one's own. Vesalius may have undertaken his revolutionary anatomical project 'out of a love of truth', 'ueritatis amore' (Vesalius 4r), but the artists illustrating his Fabrica and in its wake countless anatomy books could not embrace Arachne's frankness about (repeated) violence against the subaltern other. A presumptuous man--originally a satyr!--punished through anatomisation was much more decorous for artistic/anatomical 'sublimation' to human exemplarity than was a hubristic woman punished through metamorphosis for the audacity of exposing male power abuse and female disempowerment. Marsyas's challenge to hierarchical order within patriarchy, albeit obscured in Ovid, was not as outrageous as was Arachne's challenge to masculine abuses within patriarchy; only the latter, if not suppressed, could potentially have led to epistemological and socio-political change. Arachne has been dys-identitied as a loathsome arachnid ever since.


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Ovidius University, Constanza


(1.) '[Violence] which is "out there" in the world ... [is] opposed to that which is exercised through words upon things in the world, often by attributing violence to them. But ... the two cannot in fact be distinguished, at least not in writing.... [V]iolent events are not simply so but are called violent because they bring together different concepts of social order. To regard certain practices as violent is never to see them just as they are. It is always to take up a position for or against them....' (Armstrong and Tennenhouse 9; emphasis added)

(2.) It is now common ground that autopsia in the early modern sense has literally to do with the emerging ideal of personal observation as extolled by Vesalius in the dedication of his Fabrica, and derives conceptually from the ancient nosce te ipsum, thereby vindicating philosophically and religiously the newly emerged queen of sciences, Anatomia.

(3.) As I review in my 'The Time Is out of Joint' (n. 3), even though the subjects of anatomy may have belonged to a relatively broad social spectrum, starting with the royalty, e.g. Henri II of France or of Elizabeth I of England (Cregan 50), conspicuously more liable to end up on the dissection table were social marginals, whose bodies were supplied by the gallows and the graveyard, the former the only legitimate source between the thirteenth and the early seventeenth centuries, the latter used probably since the early fourteenth century (Wilson 68); starting in the 1480s Italian hospitals would furnish their dead inmates to anatomists (Park 16). According to Park (12), social marginality--due to poverty and distant geographical origin--more than criminality proper rendered one a likely anatomical subject in Italy. In England, where both Henry VIII in 1540 and Elizabeth I in 1560 ruled that executed felons be used as anatomical subjects by the London barber-surgeons, the subjects for dissection could also come from the ranks of the disinherited in the wake of land closure, once they had been criminalized (Cregan 51-2, 61).

(4.) The classicization of the space-time of dissection in early modern anatomical illustration appears to work in tandem with a mock classicization of the social status of the subject forced to surrender his/her dead body to the anatomist; once the practice of anatomy is mythologized as goddess Anatomia, this impinges not only upon the gamut of pictorial conventions available to illustrators, but also upon the very availability of subject positions within the discipline (Siobanu, 'The Time Is out of Joint' 10-11). Furthermore, it has rightly been observed that images feigning lively vitality in anatomy books of 1500-1750 thermalized and moralized the new social obsession with self-fashioning and individuality performed in the public sphere.

(5.) Vesalius rather identitied the artists' demand, as he himself acknowledges and as proves the foundational role of his studies for anatomical drawing books for artists (Sellink 47-8).

(6.) Giulio Casserio's Tabulae anatomicae, with drawings by Odoardo Fialetti, was published posthumously in Latin (Venice, 1627) and in German (Frankfurt, 1656); its illustrations were plagiarized by John Browne in his A Complete Treatise of the Muscles, As they appear in Humane Body, And arise in Dissection; With Diverse Anatomical Observations Not yet Discovered (London, 1681).

(7.) Luke Wilson addresses a salient epistemological distinction regarding the performance in the anatomy theatre between dissection as 'the taking apart of the body', whereby 'a particular corpse [is] laid waste in extensional space', and anatomy as body 'reconstitution', viz. 'a corpus of mental categories that make up the body of physiological knowledge' (63). Nevertheless, both aspects 'are more properly thought of as simultaneous components of a performance that in its totality reconstitutes ... [a] new body of knowledge, or body-as-knowledge' (63).

(8.) I use object here so as to distinguish the implicit objestitication of the deceased's body from the anatomists' explicit term, subjectum (qtd. in Bohde 30), with its ambiguous polysemy and equally ambiguous reference to the imaged playful or self-autoptic cadaver.

(9.) Elkins's 'metamorphosis by looking alone' corresponds to G. Kress and T. Van Leeuwen's 'abstract coding orientation' (qtd. in Daly and Bell 196). They distinguish several 'coding orientations', which reference how people read, within different contexts, different kinds of modality (e.g. markers of 'truth', advertising representations, scientific representations). The abstract coding orientation 'reduces the individual to the general' and reduces concrete entities to their 'essential' qualities.

(10.) Female anatomies had, however, been performed before Vesalius: not only did universities regulate the number of students and differential fees, depending on the sex of the cadaver, which they paid for watching an anatomy in the fifteenth century, but later Jacopo Berengario da Carpi claimed, in his Commentaria cum amplissimis additionibus super anatomia Mundini (Commentaries on Mondino, 1521), to have demonstrated the placenta of a hanged woman to a massive audience at the university of Bologna (qtd. in Park 15).

(11.) Here I beg to differ from Sawday (70-7), who identities primarily a 'transcendent significance' (75) in the metaphorical juxtaposition, in Vesalius's frontispiece, of the anatomized woman's womb and the towering skeleton sounding a memento mori, thereby minimizing the socio-political and onto-theological nexus of this patriarchal representation in anatomical illustration.

(12.) Although begun in the 1530s and completed well before Vesalius's book, Charles Estienne's De dissectione partium corporis humani libri tres was eventually published in Paris in Latin in 1545 and then in French translation in 1546. This delay was caused by a law suit brought in 1539 by his main collaborator, anatomist Estienne de la Riviere, whose contribution Estienne had originally failed to acknowledge properly.

(13.) Some of the illustrations were taken from non-anatomical books to cut costs: Estienne had the middle of the woodblock replaced with an insert by Riviere that depicted the body's interior (Talvacchia 163-4; Carlino 26), which may explain in part the weird or inappropriately elegant settings, as well as the relatively tiny anatomical representation proper, which makes the book unsuitable for the study of anatomy. Francois Jollat, Estienne's artist, 'recycled' Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio's engravings in Gli amori degli dei ('The Loves of the Gods', 1527) of the erotic drawings commissioned by Baviera from Perino del Vaga and Rosso Fiorentino. The Italian illustrations, in their turn, alluded to a series of prints by engraver Marcantonio Raimondi after Giulio Romano's drawings, known as I Modi ('The Positions', 1524), which depicted contemporary Roman courtesans engaged in sexual acts with their clients (Talvacchia 1-21).

(14.) The first illustration of a female skeleton and its peculiar features in the history of Western medicine, according to Stolberg (277, 278 fig 1), appears--identitied as sceletos mulieris adultae--in Book 3, table 2 of the De corporis humani structura et usu libri III (1583) by Felix Platter, professor of anatomy at Basel University. Caspar Bauhin then drew on Platter's list of distinguishing features in his Anatomica virilis et muliebris historia (1597), while in his Theatrum anatomicum (1605), Bauhin copied Platter's image to illustrate mulieris sceleton (Stolberg 279). Platter's and Bauhin's findings were adopted by many other authors, so much so that their 'influence can be traced into more popular, vernacular publications' (Stolberg 279), e.g. Helkiah Crooke's Mikrokosmographia (London, 1616) and Joseph Schmidt's (or Schmid's) Spiegel der Anatomy (Augsburg, c. 1650).

(15.) One modern version of the age-old male-qua-human anatomy is simply to dis-identify the sex of the cadaver, as happens in Robert Winston's Body: An Amazing Tour of Human Anatomy, whose table of contents illustrations (and pp. 7-8) are implicitly of male subjects, unlike the explicitly male image demonstrating types of sestions (6); likewise, images in The Concise Human Body Book are implicitly of male subjects (front cover; 13-15), while indeed the endocrine system is depicted female, with a male insert (15). Quite tellingly for the abiding tradition, the human icon used on the web page of the US National Library of Medicine Online Exhibitions and Digital Projects to link to the Visible Human Project (<>) is recognisably male, while the web page icon of the VHP is actually a colour cryosestion through the thorax of the so-called 'Visible Human Male' (< html>). See Waldby for a cogent analysis of the ideological violence of the VHP anatomical project, Curtis for a critique of both the VHP and more generally modern culture's laws of intelligibility, which deny aesthesis as the body's inherently irreducible differend, and Johnson for a critique of how the minimally invasive surgical simulator replicates the traditional anatomical outlook on the sexes. None of these authors, however, broaches the import of racial and social intersestionality implicit in the choice of cadavers for scientific constructions of the 'human'--in fact, Caucasian male--specimen.

(16.) The symbolic thrust of the Valverde/Becerra ecorche was anticipated by illustrations in Berengario da Carpi's Commentaries on Mondino (Bologna, 1521) and Isagogae breves perlucidae ac uberrimae in anatomiam humani corporis (Bologna, 1523), where a flayed ecorche peals out the skin layers to reveal his abdominal muscles (Isagogae, fol. 6v) and a flayed crucitied Christ reveals the muscular anatomy of the arms (Commentaries, fol. 519v) (Park 26, figs. 3-4).

(17.) Furthermore, both Michelangelo and sculptor Silvio Cosini of Fiesole (according to Vasari) are known--in the former's case, rumored--to have at one point flayed the cadaver they had dissected (Campbell 602; Park 26).

(18.) There are compelling occurrences of the Marsyas motif in anatomy books (Sawday 186, figs. 22, 23; Jacobs 441), such as historiated initial V for Vesalius's name in the second edition of the Fabrica (Basel, 1555), the historiated M opening the myology sestion (Colombo 117) in Realdo Colombo's otherwise illustration-free De re anatomica (Venice, 1559), the ecorche herms of the cartouche on the title page of the 1586 edition of Valverde's Anatomia del corpo umano, and the allusion in Charles Estienne's De dissectione (Paris, 1545), where a male figure suspended against a tree has his abdomen split open to reveal the viscera (Estienne 191); on the title page of Theodor Kerckring's Spicilegium anatomicum (Amsterdam, 1670), the Ovidian scene of punishment is travestied as Anatomia engaged in flaying the corpse.

(19.) Suspending the ecorche by rope and pulley was a technique Vesalius deployed throughout his career to mount ecorches and skeletons, not only representations thereof (Vesalius 190; Valverde 71), in upright position for anatomical display and examination (Nutton). The same technique appears in the Practitioners of the Fine Arts, aka The Academy of Fine Arts, an engraving by Cornelis Cort after a 1573 drawing by Johannes Stradanus: in the left foreground of the engraving--printed in 1587 by Batista Diparmensis and found in the collection of William Hunter, eminent English anatomist and obstetrician--young draftsmen study both a skeleton and a corpse that is being flayed before their eyes. However, illustrations of such rope-and-pulley suspension of uncannily flapping flayed cadavers overlay the memory of the gallows with a subtle allusion to the Ovidian Marsyas's punishment, and both comment on the artitice of anatomy. Or, as McHugh (255-6) suggests, such a suspended ecorche evokes, through his (sic) modelling, the excruciating torture of crucitixion iconography.

(20.) Theodoor (Theodor) Galle was the eldest son of Philips Galle; like other contemporary artists, Theodoor produced works--anatomical or otherwise--which evince similarities with skeletons and ecorche nudes in Vesalius (Sellink 49).

(21.) Louis Montrose argues convincingly that the sixteenth-century colonialist discourse of discovery was predicated on the dual move of gendering the New World as feminine and sexualizing its exploration, conquest and settlement, as happens in Walter Ralegh's Discoverie of Guiana (1595); as Jennifer Morgan shows, the metaphor recurs in various other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century travel accounts of America and Africa. Unsurprisingly, the 'erotic hymn to the female body' in John Donne's Elegy XIX resonates with both Vesalius's 'proprietal gesture' (Sawday 27) on the title page of his Fabrica and the trope which 'structure[d] the voyage into the body's interior' (28) in the pre-Cartesian age: America (27-8). In the aftermath of Descartes, however, the 'geographical body' or body-as-America trope was replaced by the 'mechanical body' (28-9).

(22.) While in many universities physicians of humanist persuasion made dissection a regular part of medical instruction, the Florentine Accademia del Disegno was the first of its kind to institute a mandatory course in anatomy for artists to better their grasp of the human body and therewith its visual rendition. In fact, anatomical illustration had as its necessary correlative books of anatomy for artists (Sellink 45-8), e.g. Instruction et fondements de bien pourtraire (Antwerp, 1589) by Dutch artist, engraver and printer Philips Galle, Livre de pourtraiture (published posthumously, Paris, 1595) by French engraver Jean (or Jehan) Cousin the Younger and Anatomia per uso et intelligenza del disegno ricercata non solo su gl 'ossi, e muscoli del corpo humano (Rome, 1691) by Italian surgeon and anatomy professor Bernardino Genga.

(23.) I discuss the subtle silences of Ovid's Marsyas episode, including the legacy of obscuring Apollo's irrational behavior, in Siobanu, 'Body Disruption, Onomastic Riddles and the Challenge to Identity and/as Apollonian Rationality in Ovid's Story of Marsyas'.

(24.) According to de Lauretis, violence is not only engendered in representation as violence of representation, but it is specifically created along gender lines, engendered: 'both views of the relation between rhetoric and violence contain and indeed depend on the same representation of sexual difference, whether they assume the "fact" of gender or ... deny it: and, further, ... the representation of violence is inseparable from the notion of gender, even when the latter is explicitly "deconstructed" or, more exactly, indicated as "ideology". I contend, in short, that violence is en-gendered in representation' (240). This is so, as Armstrong and Tennenhouse sum up de Lauretis's thesis, because 'the only gender that can presume to speak as if ungendered and for all genders is the dominant gender' (3).

(25.) Velazquez's Las Hilanderas has in the background an Abduction of Europa, itself a paradigmatic story of deception and violence illustrated first in Ovid's Arachne's tapestry.

(26.) Some contemporary artists have rekindled interest in the myth, e.g. Andre Durand, Arachne (1981-2002); Marcia Freedman, Arachne (2006; abstract; oil painting); Dave Martsolf, Arachne (2010; abstract; watercolour and ink on paper). The list of early modern paintings of Arachne might seem large enough as to undermine my early claim; however, my point here is a comparison between representations of Arachne and Marsyas in the fine arts, and the type of model they purportedly offer. As to Marsyas, here are several painted and sculpted works (in this order) created from the Renaissance onwards: Pietro Perugino's Apollo and Marsyas (c. 1483-91; Paris, Louvre); Raphael's Apollo and Marsyas (1509-11; Vatican, Stanza della Segnatura, ceiling fresco); Titian's Flaying of Marsyas (1571-76; Kromeriz, Archiepiscopal Palace); Annibale Carracci's Flaying of Marsyas (1597-1603; Rome, Palazzo Farnese, ceiling fresco); Bartolomeo Manfredi's Apollo and Marsyas (1615-20; St Louis, Miss., St Louis Art Museum); Domenichino's Flaying of Marsyas (1616-18; London, National Gallery); Giovanni Francesco Barbieri Guercino's Apollo Flaying Marsyas (c. 1618; Florence, Palazzo Pitti); Guido Reni's Apollo Skinning Alive Marsyas (1620-25; Toulouse, Musee des Augustins); Jakob Jordaens's Apollo Flaying Marsyas (c. 1625; private collection); Johann Liss's Apollo and Marsyas (1627; Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia); Paolo Veronese's (attrib.) Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1580s; Munich, formerly collection of Crown Prince Ruprecht); Jose de Ribera's Apollo and Marsyas (1637; two versions: Brussels, Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts, and Naples, Museo di Capodimonte); the double figuration of Marsyas in Andrea Sacchi's Marcantonio Pasqualini Crowned by Apollo (1641; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art); Luca Giordano's several versions of Apollo and Marsyas (c. 1650, Moscow, Pushkin Museum; c. 1655, Naples, Museo di Capodimonte; undated, Naples, private collection); Claude Lorrain's Landscape with the Flaying of Marsyas (two versions: c. 1639-40, Moscow, Pushkin Museum, and c. 1645-6, Norfolk, Holkham Hall, Collection of the Earl of Leicester); Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Apollo and Marsyas (1721; Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia); Carle Van Loo's Marsyas Flayed by the Order of Apollo (1735; Paris, Ecole nationale superieure des beaux-arts); Andrea del Verrocchio's (1435-88) restoration of a Roman red marble torso and head of Marsyas acquired by Lorenzo de Medici, as mentioned by Vasari (qtd. in Jacobs 430-1); Stefano Maderno's Apollo Flaying Marsyas (1620s, terracotta group, Rome); Balthasar Permoser's marble bust of Marsyas (c. 1680-85; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art); and Antonio Corradini's marble statue of Apollo Flaying Marsyas (1723-28; London, Victoria and Albert Museum).

(27.) Ovid's Arachne's metamorphosis has indeed influenced literature, especially German and Swiss, by supplying matter for the black spider motif of arachnophobic legends, e.g. Der Geist im Glas, Die Spinne auf der Heidenburg, the Rohrbacher Sage Vo dr schwarze Spinnele, and stories, e.g. Langbein's Die schwarze Spinne and Jeremias Gotthelfs Die schwarze Spinne (1842) (Gallagher 699). On the other hand, while Spider-Man, a heroic masculine counterpart of the arachnid rather than of Ovid's Arachne had conquered the global world by the turn of the millennium, the West has produced virtually no positive representation of the Spider-Woman to correspond to the creatrix of many Native American tribes or at least not to duplicate Spider-Man in a phallocentric economy of the same (in Luce Irigaray's words), as the comics' superheroine does.

(28.) The list is impressive; suffice to mention the constant writerly interest in Philomela from the Middle Ages (Chretien de Troyes; Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women, c. 1385-6; John Gower, Confessio Amantis, c. 1386-90) to the Renaissance (Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, c. 1594; George Gascoigne, The Fable of Philomela, 1562, revised as The Complaynt of Phylomene, 1575-6) and modernity (Matthew Arnold, 'Philomela,' 1853; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922; Timberlake Wertenbaker, 'The Love of the Nightingale', 1980; Erin Shields, If We Were Birds, dir. Alan Dilworth, Summerworks, Toronto, 2008, and Tarragon Theatre, Toronto, 2010). The Ovidian story has furnished a potent metaphor for feminist theorisations of women's condition, as well as the poetics and politics of speaking/writing/reading under patriarchy, e.g. Elissa Marder's 'Disarticulated Voices: Feminism and Philomela' (Hypatia 7.2, 1992), Jeffrey F. Keuss's 'Speech after Rape: Towards a Theological Poetics of Identity and Loss after Philomela's "Voice of the Shuttle"' (Theology and Sexuality 9.2, 2003) and Nancy A. Gutierrez's 'Philomela Strikes Back: Adultery and Mutilation as Female Self-assertion (Women's Studies 16, 1989); it has also spurred feminist re-visions of the masculine literary canon, e.g. Jane O. Newman's '"And Let Mild Women to Him Lose Their Mildness": Philomela, Female Violence, and Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece' (Shakespeare Quarterly 45.3, 1994), Martha J. Cutter's 'Philomela Speaks: Alice Walker's Revisioning of Rape Archetypes in The Color Purple' (Melus 25.3-4, 2000), Robert N. Watson and Stephen Dickey's 'Wherefore Art Thou Tereu? Juliet and the Legacy of Rape' (Renaissance Quarterly 58.1, 2005), and Jessica Lugo's 'Blood, Barbarism, and Belly Laughs: Shakespeare's Titus and Ovid's Philomela' (English Studies 88.4, 2007).

(29.) I use performance in Judith Butler's sense, hence contrary to the traditional view of the existence of a stable essence of identity, gender or body.

(30.) Michelangelo's allusion in his Last Judgement to the Marsyas story appears to have been inspired by Dante's 'Christianized neo-platonic conceit' (Barolsky 31) in the opening of the Paradiso (1.13-21), which explicitly 'associates Apollo's entering into Marsyas with poetic inspiration' (Barolsky 31). The co-occurrence within the Vatican of two scenes of Marsyas's flaying painted by Raphael (1509-11) and Michelangelo (1536-41), the latter travestied in Christian garb, cannot be purely coincidental (Eknoyan and De Santo 267), but rather gestures towards the first step to crowning anatomy as the premier science or perhaps philosophy of the Renaissance.

Estella Antoaneta Siobanu is lecturer in English Ph.D. at the Faculty of Letters, Ovidius University, Constanta, where she teaches Medieval English Literature, Gender Studies, and Religions in the U.S. She has published articles on medieval English theatre and culture, as well as on medieval and post-medieval cartography and on early modern anatomical illustration. Recent publications include: 'Mapping the New World,' in New Direstions in Travel Writing and Travel Studies, ed. Carmen Andras (Aachen: Shaker Verlag, 2010), and 'Sity of God?: Sity Merchants, Bloody Trade and the Eucharist in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament", in Images of the Sity, ed. Agnieszka Rasmus and Magdalena Sieslak (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). She is co-author, with Petru Golban, of A Short History of Literary Criticism (Kutahya, Turkey: Uc Mart Press, 2008).
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Author:Siobanu, Estella Antoaneta
Publication:Journal of Research in Gender Studies
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2014
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