The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal

The Anatomy Lesson

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

Wherein resides the soul? In 1632, during Golden Age Amsterdam, anatomists thought that they could discover the soul through dissection. In this fictional history depicting the background of Rembrandt’s first great painting, the soul is found instead through the artist’s eye.

The story is told through seven viewpoints:

The Body-Aris the Kid, the executed criminal due to be dissected
The Hands-Dr. Tulp, the ambitious dissecting physician who has vainly renamed himself after the tulip
The Heart-Flora, the pregnant lover of the criminal who seeks to save him
The Mouth-Jan Fetchet, a curio dealer who provides the body for dissection
The Mind-The famous Rene Descartes, philosopher
The Eyes-Rembrandt the painter whose conscience and art war with social and financial concerns
Pia-the restoration expert who helps unveil the methods and reasoning of the artist

A fascinating glimpse into both the high and low places of a historical time, and the souls of both artist and subject.

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