Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Una Sealy RCSI MSc thesis.pdf (135.49 MB)

Anatomy for Artists

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posted on 2022-03-11, 16:09 authored by Una Sealy

Artists that work in the figurative tradition, ie: the human form is present in their work in a recognisable way, can greatly develop their practice if they have a knowledge of the underlying structures of the body. In addition, this knowledge can enable the artist to create works featuring the figure without being dependent on models or photographs, which may not always be available. The purpose of this study is to investigate if there is a comprehensive, and time-efficient method for artists to learn the necessary amount of information about human surface anatomy that would benefit their practice. The history of anatomy, and what is available to artists today, is researched in order to put the research question ‘can anatomy be taught to artists in five days?’ in context.

The materials and methods undertaken identify those structures which are visible on the body surface, starting with the armature of the skeleton and its bony landmarks. The muscles are then added one by one, or in groups according to function, until the external contour of the figure is reached. Muscle action is also studied, so that the artist has an understanding of what they observe when a muscle is contracted. The results of this research are used to devise a five-day (or 30-hour) schedule, to teach anatomy to artists. The discussion looks at the wider context of art and medicine in order to identify areas that are not covered in the proposed course. The study concludes with recommendations on how the course can be made more comprehensive with the use of audio-visual aids, workbooks, and supplementary areas of anatomy that merit more detailed consideration.


First Supervisor

Prof. Clive Lee

Second Supervisor

Dr. Oran Kennedy


Submitted for the Award of Master of Science by Research to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 2021.

Published Citation

Sealy U. Anatomy for Artists [MSc Thesis] Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2021

Degree Name

  • Master of Science (MSc): Research

Date of award



  • Master of Science (MSc): Research

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