Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Anatomy Lesson

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 08 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1075

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  1. Munier Hossain, staff grade surgeon, Ysbyty Gwynedd, North Wales
  1. munierh{at}

    Rembrandt’s famous painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Pulp ( was a group portrait commissioned by the Guild of Surgeons of Amsterdam. Rembrandt was only 26 at the time he painted it. The itinerant painter had travelled from his native Leiden to Amsterdam. Luck readily smiled on him.

    Dr Tulp—the newly appointed reader of the Guild of Surgeons—needed a portrait to befit his new status. Rembrandt’s genius was in transcending the limited appeal of a group portrait to become a chronicler of anatomy dissection of his time. What is the story behind this autopsy? Where did …

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