ISI Florence Art History professor and Director of the Dutch University Institute for Art History (NIKI) in Florence, Michael W. Kwakkelstein, recently published a new book: Anatomical Studies. This volume is part of the renowned catalogue project ‘Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard’ and offers the first monographic treatment of Rubens’s anatomical drawings. Although inspired by the example of great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, Kwakkelstein argues that Rubens familiarized himself with the surface anatomy of the human body by examining antique sculpture, consulting illustrated anatomical texts and copying after a sculpted écorché figure by a Mannerist artist. Rubens’s dependence on the inaccurate anatomy of his artistic models and his deliberate distortion of the muscles of his nude figures, shows that, as a history painter, he was less interested in achieving verisimilitude than in heightening the dramatic and visual effect of his narrative paintings.
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