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The Anatomy of Man

Limbourg brothers

The brilliant miniature called 'The Anatomy of Man' is one of the best-known works of the Middle Ages. The two human figures are derived from Italian Venus motifs. It is not certain whether the brothers encountered these motifs during their travels in Italy, or in one of the many sketchbooks that made the rounds throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. The graceful posture, also known as the S-posture is characteristic of the period, and today is usually referred to as 'International Gothic'. The painting depicts two people - a young woman with blond hair and a young man with dark hair. The purpose of this picture is to show which constellations influence the various parts or organs of the body. It is a veritable crash course in medical astrology. The texts in the four corners connect the constellations with the four humours that determine human character as well as the four heavenly wind directions and the two genders (male/female).

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