Écorchés, moulages and anatomical preparations – the
cadaver in the teaching of artistic anatomy at the Accademia di Belle Arti di
Since the sixteenth century, artistic anatomy – a branch of medical
science subordinated to the Fine Arts – has understood itself as a
comparative investigation halfway between forensic dissection and the analysis
of classical art and live bodies. Its teaching was first instituted in Italy by
the 1802 curriculum of the national Fine Arts academies, but underwent a drastic
transformation at the turn of the century, as the rise of photography brought
about both a new aesthetics of vision and an increase in the precision of
iconographic documentation. In this article I will attempt to provide a history
of the teaching of this discipline at the close of the nineteenth century within
the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, with a focus on its ties to
contemporary French practices. Drawing on archival materials including lesson
plans, letters and notes from the classes of the three medical doctors who
subsequently held the chair (Gaetano Strambio, Alessandro Lanzillotti-Buonsanti
and Carlo Biaggi), I will argue that the deep connections between their teaching
of the discipline and their work at the city hospital reveal a hybrid approach,
with the modern drive towards live-body study unable to wholly supplant the
central role still granted to corpses in the grammar of the visual arts.
Osteological collections are key sources of information in providing crucial
insight into the lifestyles of past populations. In this article, we conduct an
osteobiographical assessment of the human remains of fourteen Selk'nam
individuals, which are now housed in the Department of Anthropology, Natural
History Museum Vienna, Austria. The aim is to bring these individuals closer to
their communities of origin by using non-invasive methods aimed at rebuilding
their biological profiles (i.e., age-at-death, biological sex and health
status), adding to these with results from provenance research. This way, the
human remains were assigned a new identity closer to their original one, through
a process that we call ‘re-individualisation’. This is especially
significant since it must be assumed that the individuals were exhumed against
their cultural belief system. We conclude that building strong and long-lasting
collaborations between Indigenous representatives and biological anthropologists
has a pivotal role in research for reappraising Indigenous history.
Museums are places characterised by collecting objects, displaying them for
public education and also subjecting their collections to research. Yet
knowledge can not only be created by using the collection for research. The
history of a collection can also be reconstructed, albeit mostly in a
fragmentary way. This is important when there is evidence that the collection
was acquired in a colonial context, when the collection contains human remains
and more so if these were taken from Indigenous peoples. Reconstructing the
history of a collection can assist source communities in strengthening their
identities and help to regain lost knowledge about their ancestors. This study
analyses the provenance of fourteen crania and calvaria of the Selk’nam
people from Tierra del Fuego, stored at the Department of Anthropology, Natural
History Museum Vienna. Additionally, the significance of these results and their
meaning for today’s Selk’nam community Covadonga Ona will be
contextualised within the framework of colonial history and museum systems.
Chapter 4 focuses on the road to the Medical Act 1858 which began the process of unification of the professions. It will be shown how the Act fell short of uniting the different orders of medical practitioners into a single medical profession. What the Act achieved by establishing the Medical Register was a means to identify practitioners recognised by the State as qualified to practise and entitled to be entered onto the register. The chapter reviews some of the many conflicting proposals for medical reform advanced by different groups. The first outcome of campaigns for reform, the Apothecaries Act 1815, is seen to be a damp squib. Sixteen Bills presented to Parliament from 1830 to 1858 failed. Noting that the only matter on which the orthodox agreed remained their abomination of unqualified healers all of whom the orthodox labelled as quacks, the chapter goes on to explore the use of the courts and prosecutions for manslaughter in attempts to scare unlicensed healers out of business. It is shown that the judges rejected pleas to privilege the licensed practitioner. Finally, the Medical Act 1858 and its lukewarm reception is assessed. The omission of measures to criminalise all unlicensed healers is explained. The Act marked a gradual move towards a partial merger of the orthodox professions making it easier for the courts to identify ‘responsible medical opinion’. Medicine can be seen to be a profession acquiring a stronger voice in debates about laws relating to matters such as abortion and anatomy.
Chapter 10 considers aspects of English law relating to the human corpse. The need for bodies and their parts long precedes the advent of organ transplants. Human dissection was crucial to understanding the human body and thus developing medicine. The first part of the chapter charts measures to meet the gap between supply and demand, including bodysnatching, robbing the grave of recently deceased persons and selling the corpse to the surgeons. The inadequacy of the law and the shaky authority of the so-called ‘no property in a corpse rule’ is exposed. The second part focuses on the introduction of legislation expressly designed to regulate anatomy, the Anatomy Act 1832 which triggered riots and the burning of an anatomy school. The process of law-making which culminated in the 1832 Act is shown to mark a radically increased respect on the part of legislators to biomedical science, in sharp difference to the more sceptical approach of the judges. And as with abortion laws, medical practitioners acquired a strong voice in debates on the law, a voice not limited to the science, but also addressing the moral and social issues.
Chapter 6 explores the influence of Christianity in shaping secular laws relating to moral dilemmas in medicine dilemmas, which might now be described as bioethical questions. What is perceived to be the persistent influence of Christian theology in shaping the law on matters of life and death is decried in a country where fewer and fewer people practise that faith. The common law has long addressed debates about the nature of human life, beginning and ending human lives. The chapter will contend that while Christian tradition undoubtedly played a part in forming English law relating to the protection and value of human life, religion was only one factor, and maybe not the principal factor, in the formation of legal principles applicable to the value of life. The common law is seen to display a strong theme of pragmatism and a focus on the maintenance of the King’s Peace. The chapter addresses euthanasia, suicide and what makes an entity legally human.
Law and healing is a colourful and critical account of the longstanding ‘marriage’ between two fundamental pillars of human society, law and medicine. The book addresses medico-legal history, exploring aspects of English law’s fascinating and sometimes acrimonious relationship with healing and healers. It challenges assumptions that medical law is new and that when law engaged with medicine, judges deferred to the ‘medical man’. It traces the regulation of healing from the dominance of the Church, and goes on to examine how the battles between different groups of lay ‘doctors’, physicians, surgeons and apothecaries were fought out in the law courts, the Royal Court and Parliament. Malpractice litigation and predictions of malpractice crises are shown to date back to the fourteenth century. Evidence of judicial deference is scant until late in the nineteenth century. Medical law today addresses moral dilemmas arising in medical practice and biomedical science. Considering historical perceptions of the human body from the womb to the grave, this work identifies themes persisting through medico-legal history and how history repeats itself. The book assesses both how English law responded to changes in ‘scientific’ understanding of bodies and how ‘science’, or what was thought to be science, influenced law. Bizarre theories about biology are seen to buttress laws of primogeniture and legal incapacities imposed on married women. The book considers how in the nineteenth century medical practitioners gradually acquired a strong voice in law-making on morals as much as medical practice.
Chapter 2 addresses the presence of a third party in the marriage of law and healing, the Church, exploring the relationship between three key actors in the formulation of law relating to healing, the Church, Parliament and medical practitioners. The chapter outlines how, before the Reformation, the Church in Rome enacted rules in canon law regulating healers. It identifies the enduring influence of canon law on the organisation and regulation of medical practice. The prohibition on practising surgery imposed on most clerics by the Lateran Council 1215 is discussed as a prime example of such influence, driving surgery out of the monasteries and contributing to the development of the tripartite division of physicians, surgeons and apothecaries. The role of the Church as the principal provider of healing free of charge in the monastic hospitals is analysed. As more laymen began to practise, and the monastic hospitals declined, pressure to reform regulation grew. An attempt to establish a nationwide system enforced by the King’s officers, the Sheriffs, failed in the chaos following the death of Henry V. In 1511 the Crown intervened to create a national system to regulate physic and surgery endorsed by Parliament in the Act ‘for the Appointment of Physicians and Surgeons’. The Church did not disappear from engagement with healing – it became a regulator. The 1511 Act entrusted implementation of the licensing process to the bishops.
Chapter 5 looks at medical litigation. Clinical negligence litigation often gives rise to acrimony between lawyers and doctors. Doctors regularly predict a ‘malpractice crisis’. Patients complain that the systems for redressing harm caused by medical negligence are inadequate. Chapter 5 shows that these concerns are not new. As J B Post noted, the ‘medieval medical practitioner, like his fellows of every age, was vulnerable to accusations of negligence’. The fundamental principles relating to liability for medical negligence are seen to have deep roots. By way of illustration, a number of cases stretching back to 1329 are examined. It will be seen that at least before the end of the nineteenth century there is little evidence of judicial deference to medical opinion. The surgeon treating human patients was treated no differently to the farrier (horse doctor). Such expert evidence from medical practitioners as was available was accorded no special consideration, as was to be the case in the Bolam era. Chapter 5 explores the impact of developments in ‘scientific’ medicine, contemporaneous developments in the general law relating to expert testimony and the influence of the Medical Act 1858.