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Rembrandt van Rijn gives us an anatomy lesson

It was a cold day on January 31, 1632 (perfect for a dissection because you know how stinky dead bodies can get in the summer) when Dr. Tulp embarked on the only dissection of the year and Rembrandt at the tender age of 26 was commissioned for the painting. The Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons (along with anyone willing to pay an entrance fee) got all dressed up for the event, which if you think about it is “SoFa king” morbid. 

Dr. Tulp didn’t actually touch the body though because that would be gross and beneath him…obviously. Hence, why there are no actual surgical tools in the painting. The poor, exposed man on the table is Aris Kindt, who had been executed earlier that day for armed robbery. The means of executing him you ask? They ~Baroque~ his neck by hanging him. All jokes aside, this painting was created during the Baroque period and this poor guy was just another in a long line of criminals to be executed and dissected in the name of SCIENCE.

Each of the men in this painting paid their way to be there. Dr. Tulp probably paid up to twice as much as the rest of the men for being the center of attention. The rest of the men’s names are written in the book held by the man in the back. Rembrandt also wanted his glory and at the time was trying out different ways of signing his paintings. This one has his name written at the top left, but if you look really closely, Aris Kindt’s belly button is in the shape of an R for Rembrandt. As if his body wasn’t being used enough. Poor Aris. But he does have a Jesus-y thing going on with the light on him and his sacrificing his body for the good of man and stuff. But on the other hand he stands as a warning to criminals. Because who wants to be dissected while a bunch of old men watch?

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is a 1632 oil painting on canvas by Rembrandt housed in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. It was originally created to be displayed by the Surgeons Guild in their meeting room. The painting is regarded as one of Rembrandt's early masterpieces.

In the work, Nicolaes Tulp is pictured explaining the musculature of the arm to a group of doctors. Some of the spectators are various doctors who paid commissions to be included in the painting. The painting is signed in the top-left hand corner Rembrandt. f[ecit] 1632. This may be the first instance of Rembrandt signing a painting with his forename (in its original form) as opposed to the monogram RHL (Rembrandt Harmenszoon of Leiden), and is thus a sign of his growing artistic confidence.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp