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Frederick Ruysch - Cabinet of curiosities

These engravings show the tableaux (or dramatic scenes) created by the anatomist Frederick Ruysch (1638 - 1731) and included in his wondrous cabinet of curiosities. Ruysch discovered the recipe for a special coloured substance that, when injected into human organs, revealed the journeys taken by the blood vessels through the lymphatic system. He later included these injected body parts in his museum of curiosities: body part specimens in glass jars, baby skeletons, and preserved organs sat alongside exotic birds, butterflies and plants. He thought of these exhibits as highly educational, but also felt that they should be decorated 'prettily and naturally'. So his daughter would prepare delicate cuffs or collars to be slipped on to severed arms or placed around necks. Ruysch turned other pieces in his collection into theatrical scenes. Small skeletons were positioned in 'geological' landscapes, crying into handkerchiefs, wearing strings of pearls, or playing the violin. The 'botanical' landscapes were also made up of body parts: kidney stones or tissue from the lungs would become bushes, grass or rocks. More to learn at the British Library.

1 comment:

Elzo said...


Do you know a book is reproduced these prints, I really want to! I hope you can help me!
Thank you