Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
A Tale of Two Cities_ (002).pdf (1.51 MB)

Anatomy and academies of art II − a tale of two cities

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posted on 2021-01-05, 14:15 authored by Clive LeeClive Lee
Anatomy played a significant role in the establishment of academies in art, initially in Italy and France, and then more widely in Europe and the Americas. This paper considers the role of anatomy in two such academies, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts in Dublin. In both cases, anatomy teaching for art students was formalised by the appointment of a Professor of Anatomy, positions that continue to this day. The first Professor of Anatomy in the RA, William Hunter, set the standard by delivering lectures, carrying out dissections and producing écorchés. Some of his successors have published anatomy books specifically for artists, but their enthusiasm has varied. Unlike the continuity of the RA, the RHA has only had bespoke premises from 1826 to 1916, and from 1985 onwards, and its Schools or School have operated from 1826 to 1942, and from 2008 onwards. Anatomy teaching was a casualty of the decline of the formal art academy in the 20th century, but the fortunes of both are reviving in the early 21st century.



This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:, Lee TC. Anatomy and academies of art II - a tale of two cities. Journal of Anatomy. 2020;236(4):577-587, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/joa.13130 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. Presented as part of a plenary lecture, Art & Anatomy, at the 19th Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists, London, 2019.

Published Citation

Lee TC. Anatomy and academies of art II - a tale of two cities. Journal of Anatomy. 2020;236(4):577-587.

Publication Date

13 December 2019

PubMed ID



  • Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine

Research Area

  • Surgical Science and Practice
  • Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine




  • Accepted Version (Postprint)

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