The Royal Academy of Arts and its anatomical teachings : with an examination of art-anatomy practices during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain
The thesis investigates the artistic and anatomical practices taking place between circa 1768 and 1810, primarily in the context of the Royal Academy of Arts. In focusing on the educational components of anatomical knowledge, the dissertation examines the style, methodology and the various types of private and public teaching available to artists and medical students during this period. In Chapter One, I examine the social, professional and demographic factors uniting artists and medical men. The social and professional divide that at one time kept such professions apart, was now being filled by informal gatherings. Neither artists nor anatomists however, were solely reliant on venues like the Royal Academy of Arts and private anatomy theatres. Such meetings often began in and around London's social milieu: the coffee-house culture. In Chapter Two, I go on to look at the curriculum used in the Royal Academy Schools. An artist pursuing studies in the human figure would attend life classes, anatomy lectures, dissections, and teachings on physiognomy. The Academy Schools were not immune to the medical and scientific influences of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; the theories and practices of medical men infiltrated artistic training. Consequently, a number of private anatomy schools in the metropolis were open to both medical and art students. Other private drawing and dissecting classes had their own anatomical museums attached, providing art students with the opportunity of painting from pathological specimens. In Chapters Three and Four, I proceed to explore the part played by William Hunter, an obstetrician, anatomist and the first professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy of Arts. Hunter and Joshua Reynolds were in agreement concerning anatomical instruction for artists. It was an education consisting of a thorough knowledge of the human body, and the ability to translate such anatomical information on to a canvas. Discussed here also is Hunter's large obstetrical atlas, and the life-size painted panels of Gautier D'Agoty. I then proceed in Chapter Five, to examine the Plaister Academy. I examine its students, the curriculum and its teachers. While at the Royal Academy, William Hunter had access to the Plaister Academy and, as I suggest, it is here that he made his three-dimensional plaster of paris models of female anatomies. As a whole, it is the aim of this dissertation to have thoroughly explored the links between artists and anatomists in England between 1768 and 1810, and to have documented the rise and nature of art education in this period.