Our understanding in anatomy and physiology today will be deadened without the knowledge from the Renaissance period. Let take a short step to look at what is Renaissance? Based historian, Renaissance means rebirth because “it [is] believed that the human spirit [has] to be reawakened as it [is] in the classical (Greco-Roman) times” (). During this time, the new conception of human emerges as individualism which means a man can create his own destiny, and humanism in which “humans are the center of the universe” (). With their free will and the motion in seeking personal fame, artists engage themselves in learning the structure of human body to make their works more lifelike. With such knowledge, they have built the foundation for our understanding of anatomy today. In many art works during this period, the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna has great contribution to this foundation of anatomy with its perspectival depiction technic, understanding and knowledge of the body through Christ figure, and new meaning of the death.
First, to help one understand the painting completely, he or she need to place the painting in time period when it happens. As we know, Dead Christ is completed about 1490 in Renaissance period. Most paintings in this time represent human body accurately because many artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea Mantegna, etc have studied structure of human body by dissecting human corpses. Besides the purpose to understand structure of human body, Renaissance men also try to find the cause of death. This practice of dissection has begun during Alexandria era (c.300-250 BC). However, it has been stopped during the Dark Ages “due to contemporaneous religious proscriptions” (). As artists enhance their knowledge of understanding structure of human body, human figure in their art works appear more accuracy.
Dead Christ has significance meaning in the evolution of the understanding of human anatomy. First, it is the perspectival depiction technic which Mantegna uses to portray Christ body. The painting appears with Christ body in the center lying on a marble slab with Virgin Mary and St.John by his side. From the viewer’s angle, one can see the anatomical details in Christ body especially his thorax. It is because Mantegna uses “foreshortens and dramatizes the recumbent [of Christ] figure” (). However, Christ’s feet are smaller in the size so that they cannot interfere the view of Christ body. If Mantegna draws Christ’s feet in proper size, it may cover much of the body. This painting is one of the most masterpiece as example for perspective technic. Even thought Mantegna uses foreshorten to make Christ’s body appearing shorten, the physical structure of his body is still represented accuracy.
By using the perspectival depiction technic, Mantegna also expresses his understanding of human anatomy through Christ’s figure. For the first look, we...