Link: The women behind early anatomical illustration

less than 1 minute read

The University of Toronto has a really nice article by Romi Levine that looks at the work of anatomical illustrators in the history of Canadian medical science: “Body of work: The pioneering women behind the groundbreaking Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy”.

I was fascinated by the process of creating the large-format illustrations, which began with photographs of dissections, projected from transparencies and sketched, then painted with carbon:

“The technique they used is one that's relatively unique to medical illustration, called carbon dust,” says Wooldridge. “To get the tone in, they would rub carbon against sandpaper to get a pile of carbon dust and they would apply that with a paint brush. You would get these lovely even tonal gradations with an amount of contrast that would reproduce really well.”
[Dorothy Foster] Chubb was a master of this technique, he says. “Dorothy Chubb's work is very visually distinctive – I could recognize it immediately… It's really beautifully observed, and has a really strong sense of a light source and a really strong three dimensional sense.”

The article includes a great story of how the original illustrations were saved from the landfill, then used for a new edition of the atlas.