Anatomy Lesson, Rembrandt, 1632

Description of the picture:

Anatomy Lesson – Rembrandt. 1632
This was the first major order received by Rembrandt after moving to Amsterdam. An autopsy performed by Dr. Nicholas Tulp is imprinted on the canvas (1632). Standing out with a simple collar, a wide-brimmed hat and a clear, open look, Tulp holds with his tongs a tendon of his hand; with his other hand, he shows how tendons bend fingers – the main tools of the artist and surgeon. DOCTOR. In the Netherlands, doctors often served as a target of ridicule, as, for example, in the Bosch painting Extraction of the Stupid Stone (c. 1490), which depicts a doctor drilling a patient’s skull to let out fumes. In the painting by Jan Steen, the Doctor’s visit (1663-1665) is another popular story: the doctor examines a woman who is either in love or pregnant.

Group portraits of this kind were popular among various partnerships and guilds; usually members of the group posed on them, sitting in one row. Rembrandt’s scene is more lively: the students crowded into a tight circle, and while one of them is holding a list of those present, while the others are looking at the open volume of the famous treatise of Dr. Andreas Vesalius, located in the lower right corner, they all carefully listen to the words of Dr. Tulp. Their pale faces and skin of the corpse bright spots stand out against a dark background. In such scenes, a piece of tape is usually depicted, since the diagnosis was made by the smell that occurs when the tape is burned. The doctor could also listen to the pulse of a woman, who was believed to have become more frequent in the presence of her lover.