Saturday, October 18, 2014

Travel of a Rhinocero, 16th Century

Rhinoceros, click for larger image
Dürer, Rhinoceron, 1515

When the Portuguese ship "Nossa Senhora da Ajuda" sailed from India for Lisbon in Jan 1515, it included a unusual gift from Sultan Muzafar II to King Manuel I of Portugalan Indian Rhinocero.

That rhinocero, first seen in Europe, arrived in Lisbon later that year on 20 May (5 months of travel) and created great scientific and public interest. King Manuel eventually decided to give the rhinocero to Pope Leo X and it set sail for Rome in Dec 1515, I'm afraid that was a moved year for the poor animal.
During this second travel to Rome the ship capsized in a storm and the rhino died. The carcass was recovered, stuffed, and exhibited at the Vatican in 1516.

Although few saw the animal in person the news spread across Europe. Albrecht Dürer, in Nuremburg, received a sketch and a description from Valentin Ferdinand and from this he created several ink sketches and his famous woodcut.

Rhinoceros, click for larger image
Parsons, plate I, 1743. From ref. 3
Rhinoceros, click for larger image
Galle, Rhinoceros, 1586.
Rhinoceros, click for larger image
Kandel, in Cosmographia, 1598. Wikipedia
Clara, click for larger image
Pietro Longhi, Exhibition of a rhinoceros at Venice, 1751. Wikipedia
Rhinoceros, click for larger image
Nice one :: Photo by Phillippe Halsman titled "Dali and Rhinoceros, 1956"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Leonardo’s human anatomy notebooks, 15th C

Vitruvian Man, click for larger image
Vitruvian Man
Fetus and Womb, click for larger image
Fetus and womb, ca.1510
GU system, click for larger image
Female genito-urinary system
As I'm staying this week in Florence -the key city on the Renaissance- I couldn't avoid to write a post about Leonardo Da Vinci: His earliest studies recorded were of topographical anatomy carried out in Milan starting around 1485. A decade later he returned to the subject, having access to cadavers at the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova in Florence, where it appears he collaborated with the young anatomist Marcantonio della Torre. His final period, at the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Rome, started in 1513 only to be cut short by papal decree three years later.

Leonardo was an Aristotelian, and later a Galenist, and the accuracy of his anatomical sketches vary widely. Some are clearly direct observations: e. g., he was the first to draw the coronary arteries. Others were based on animal anatomy. 

Excellent photos of this post were taken by Luc Viatour from the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Basilique de Koekelberg in September 2007. More photos of the exhibition (link provided)

For sure this will not be the last post about the Great Leonardo in facsimilium...