Jan Steven van Calcar (Netherlandish, circa 1499-circa 1546)

RECTO: Studies of Human Bones, n.d.

RECTO: Studies of Human Bones, n.d.

Red chalk on paper 11 1/2 in. x 7 3/8 in. (29.21 cm x 18.73 cm)

Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection


  • The Netherlandish artist Jan Steven van Calcar was known as Giovanni Fiammingo by artists in his adoptive Venice, where he arrived in the 1530s. Little is known of his origins and training. An assistant and collaborator of Titian, he is known to have worked as a portraitist and religious painter, though his fame rests on his anatomical illustrations. These were made for his fellow Fleming and Venetian transplant Andreas Vesalius, whose prints based on them served both artists and scientists and are the first accurately observed depictions of the interior of the human body. Beginning in 1538, the Tabulae anatomicae sex and the De humani corporis fabrica spread quickly throughout Europe. This sheet is related to more than one of the plates in these early anatomical texts. Incised for transfer to the printing plate, the red-chalk drawing is innovative in its conception of the bones as objects in space, complete with cast shadows.

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