Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


History of Art


My dissertation has as its subject the intersection of medical and artistic visions of the human body in early to mid sixteenth-century Florence. Prominent Florentine artists in the first half of the sixteenth century, such as Michelangelo, Rosso Fiorentino, Baccio Bandinelli, and Francesco Salviati, pursued the study of anatomy quite rigorously; they are even reported to have performed dissections themselves. Several artists became involved with projects to illustrate medical texts, but many produced drawings of anatomy independent of such projects, which suggests how important this was as a form of intellectual and visual inquiry. The practices of dissection, surgery, and the representation of the body might suggest a range of possible moral and ethical associations.

The focus of my dissertation is an analysis of certain different categories of Renaissance drawings that may be described as anatomical studies and a set of drawings produced by Francesco Salviati and his assistants for a pair of surgical manuscripts prepared by the physician Vidus Vidius. My approach has been much influenced by the ideas of feminist historians of science who have analyzed the visual and linguistic metaphors of mastery over nature often cultivated within scientific communities. The terms of this historical critique that I am especially concerned with cover the questions of what it meant to be a member of a scientific community, to be an artist, to express curiosity and to produce knowledge in the sixteenth century.


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