The dissection of a young, beautiful woman
Drawing by Paul Ronard, 1864
Human anatomy has been studied for many purposes and one of them
is the wish to derive statistical rules for "ideal" bodily
proportions. Such rules have been used to characterize different
ethnic groups, for example, or to provide figure painters with
rules-of-thumb when they depict human beings.
In 1864 the Frankfurt anatomist and anthropologist Johann
Christian Gustave Lucae (1814-1885) published a book entitled "Zur
Anatomie der schönen weiblichen Form" (On the anatomy of the
beautiful female form), with drawings by the artist Hermann Junker
the elder (1838-1899).
In this drawing, Lucae contemplates the body of an eighteen
year-old woman who had committed suicide. She was chosen for her
attractive proportions, in order to determine the ideal
measurements of the female body. On the left, the surgeon J.P.
Sälzer pulls back a flap of skin from the right thorax of the body.
Behind him stand two other men, identified as the artists Johann
Heinrich Hasselhorst (1825-1904) and Jacob Becker (1810- 1872). One
of them holds a cigar and its smoke is suffused in the light of the