Conference to Explore Renaissance Visualizations of the Human Body

Dec. 12-13 event at Huntington Library to examine knowledge represented in centuries-old illustrated medical treatises

skeletal hand and arm

Anatomy of the human hand, copper engraving with etching by Gerard de Lairesse, from Govard Bidloo, Anatomia humani corporis (1685)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – International scholars will gather Dec. 12-13 for a conference about the history of the body and medicine in illustrated books from the 15th to the 18th century at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. The conference is organized by Jeanette Kohl, associate professor of art history at the University of California, Riverside.

The conference, “Vesalius & His Worlds: Medical Illustration during the Renaissance,” celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Belgian anatomist and physician Andreas Vesalius, who wrote one of the most influential books on human anatomy, “De humani corporis fabrica.” He is widely considered to be the founder of the study of modern human anatomy.

“Vesalius & His Worlds” will bring together scholars, book collectors, curators, art and cultural historians, and physicians to explore the changing concepts of the human body and visualizations of knowledge in illustrated medical treatises from the early Renaissance to the 18th century, Kohl said.

The event is open to the public. The cost is $25 to attend, plus $16.50 for a buffet lunch on each day. Reservations are required and may be made via Additional conference details and registration information are available here.

Kohl said the conference is unique in that it will explore the role of medical treatises from several viewpoints at the same time: the history of science, practical medicine, the history of representations of the human body in art, and the history of collecting.

“Experts will discuss the cultural implications of anatomical knowledge and man’s fascination with the ‘opened body,’ between the emergence of medicine as a discipline proper and the later separation of arts and sciences,” she explained. “The conference is also a step toward rethinking our modern way of teaching and understanding visual practices in medicine and the history of art as two completely separate issues and fields – while in fact they are on many levels interrelated.”

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Jeanette Kohl
Tel: 310-440-6946

Jeanette Kohl
Tel: 951-827-5919

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