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HistMed Lecture Series: "Between Art and Anatomy: Leonardo da Vinci and Mar...

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International Museum of Surgical Science

1524 North Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL 60610

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Join us for a lunchtime lecture on The History of Health with Daniele Macuglia, Ph.D. of The University of Chicago as a part of our #HistMed Lecture Series at the International Museum of Surgical Science.

Free with the price of admission.


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"Between Art and Anatomy: Leonardo da Vinci and Marco Antonio dalla Torre."


Around 1510, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) worked with University of Pavia anatomist Marco Antonio dalla Torre (1481-1511), with the intent of producing the finest anatomical treatise ever produced. Yet the two never published their treatise, and the details of their collaboration remains relatively untold in the scholarly work. The reasons for this gap in the literature are threefold: the two worked together presumably for only a few months (Marco Antonio died soon after their first meetings in Pavia), few historical records of their collaborations survive, and little is known about the life of Marco Antonio himself, who was then in his youth.

We have, of course, anatomical sketches that resulted from these meetings—the wonderful drawings that now constitute Anatomical Manuscript A, a delightful and innovative experiment in the use of perspective in anatomical representations, as well as section views and elevation views. Yet, basically no other primary sources, including university records, seem to be available for historical research.

Why did Leonardo look for a collaboration with a young anatomist in Pavia? Being not a physician, was it legal for him to dissect bodies on his own? Who were the cadavers he dissected before working with dalla Torre? Did the two meet only for authoring a medical treatise together?

This talk aims to collect the fragmented information surrounding this collaboration, reconstructing this story within a robust narrative and enriching it with relevant biographical information about dalla Torre. While pondering the aforementioned questions, Macuglia focuses on a few select drawings from Anatomical Manuscript A, comparing them with other significant anatomical studies, drawings, and paintings produced by Leonardo before his collaboration with Marco Antonio.

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About the Author: Historian and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Chicago's Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Daniele Macuglia earned his Ph.D. in the history of science and medicine from the University of Chicago and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Newberry Library, and at his alma mater.

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International Museum of Surgical Science

1524 North Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL 60610

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