The muscles of the back, showing the trapezius, latissimus dorsi and deltoid muscles, in Engravings explaining the anatomy of the bones, muscles and joints. Dissection, drawing and etching by John Bell, published Edinburgh, 1794.
John Bell criticised the works of other anatomical illustrators for being ‘artistic’ and contrived. In contrast, Bell’s plates were intended to show students the realities of the body and the dissecting room.
The resulting drawings show sometimes gothic and gruesome scenes. In this picture, the flesh of the body appears to drip towards the floor, and the bound feet suggest execution or torture.
The use of etching allowed Bell to use loosely controlled, flowing lines, which create a feeling of unsettling movement. The image is very dark, and the details of the muscles – the subject of the picture – are not visible.
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