Support: Cream(1) laid paper, perimeter mounted to cream(3) laid paper (Chatsworth mount)
Sheet: 30.9 x 50.8 cm (12 3/16 x 20 in.); Secondary Support: 41.2 x 61.2 cm (16 1/4 x 24 1/8 in.)
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1993.8
Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch 424 ( XIV.320) ; Passavant VI. 60.93
Although for centuries scholars have attempted to understand the allegorical meaning of this print, 16th-century artist and author Giorgio Vasari described it simply as “an anatomy of desiccated nudes and of bones of the dead.” A central figure of winged Death stands over an interred skeleton, surrounded by a variety of skeletal and living human figures who appear to debate the fate of the soul. At far left is a “marasmic” man, a type of sun-dried body used by anatomists to study the muscles without removing the skin. Rosso Fiorentino, who designed the composition of this print to be engraved by Agostino Veneziano, was a Florentine contemporary of Michelangelo who planned a book on anatomy that was never published.
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