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Cornelius Huyberts after Frederik Ruysch : “Diorama of Fetal Skeletons Arranged with Various Internal Organs” (c. 1721-1733)

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Frederik Ruysch was a Dutch anatomist who pioneered methods of preserving organs and tissue, which he used to create artful displays and dioramas incorporating human body parts. In the five-room museum he hosted at his residence, children’s and fetal skeletons were posed in humorous tableaux amid faux-natural terrain consisting of embalmed kidney or gall stones in place or rocks, dried blood vessels in place of trees. Here, for the first time, members of the public were given a proper view of human internal organs.

Ruysch sold his collection to Tsar Peter the Great in 1717. His later work was purchased by Augustus II the Strong after his death in 1731. Of the original collection, only some of his preserved specimens remain. His scenes have been lost and are known only through engravings, such as this one by Cornelius Huyberts.

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