Supporting healthcare professionals through challenging times

Anatomical Art Lecture with Eleanor Crook

15.12.21 - 15.12.21

Wonderfully and fearfully made: How artists make anatomical bodies for medicine.


A one hour lecture followed by Q&A, hosted by Carly Annable-Coop.

Wednesday 15 Dec, 7-8.30pm

In this online lecture, medical artist and sculptor Eleanor Crook presents a history of anatomical and pathological art, from drawing to prosthetics from the point of view of the makers.

The history of medical art is one of experiment and discovery, the beautiful and the morbid. Generations of inventive illustrators and modelmakers collaborated over centuries to clarify what, on the dissection table, a cadaver, is a confusion of detail, individual variation and as-yet-mysterious structures, rapidly falling apart under the artist’s eyes. The challenge: to show how intricate and beautiful is the structure of our body even as it decays, to show the mechanism of a departed life, in religious times to glorify God’s creation even in the moment of its demise.

What materials could quite describe it, what processes be sufficient to explain it, what sensibility could convey its humanity beyond the mere matter under the dissector’s knife? How can a pencil or a gaze be as sharp as surgical steel?

In this richly illustrated talk taking a close look at Eleanor’s favourite examples from the ancient world to the present we will look at the rise of the artist in the dissection room, what tools and alchemy the early pioneers and pioneeresses  employed to put the corpse on the page or on the modelling stand, and see how the artistry of the scientific and yet macabre subject matter went above and beyond the strictly illustrational. Eleanor works both as a medical sculptor and illustrator and as a conservator of historical wax models for medical museums so expect some insider secrets and tales from the studio, along with an onscreen look at some antique art tools from her drawing, etching and sculpting collection and work in progress.



Eleanor Crook is a sculptor from the UK working internationally. Once an archaeologist  she retrained in sculpture in London  where she specialized in  anatomy, studying the body from an aesthetic and a medical view, working from the living figure and (as a medical artist) in the dissecting room.

Her specialism is  wax and bronze,  using ancient processes in contemporary contexts, looking back in history to where are the roots of our current scientific ambitions and medical advances.

She is artist in residence at the  Gordon Museum of Pathology and a member of the Medical Artists’ Association of Great Britain. She is an art and museum educator for the Clod Ensemble/Performing Medicine, Vrolik Museum Amsterdam, Camberwell School of Art and for Morbid Anatomy. Recent  and current projects include museum conservation in Amsterdam and Ghent, a bronze commission for the new Wellcome Galleries of Medicine at London’s Science Museum, some new wax models for the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Anatomy and Beyond project in Riga.


Image: Gerard de Lairesse Anatomical copperplate engraving with etching Amsterdam, 1690

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