Medical Illustration

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11777

Purple mountain majesties, amber waves of grain, verdant fields, bowls of fruit, and our intestines. What do they have in common? They are subjects of works of art! Explore the world of medical art!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Some of the most famous works of art in the history of the world feature the human form, like these pictured below.

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There is a form of art, however, that goes beneath the skin to show the inside of the human form! Gross or cool? You decide.

People have always known that if you eat certain plants, they may help heal the sick.

Eventually, they began to write down the various herbs and other treatments to cure headaches, upset stomachs, and more life-threatening illnesses. In the ancient world, doctors began to wonder more about what was going on beneath the skin that might help them diagnose and treat illnesses. They began to map the inner workings of the human body, and what a fascinating place it is!

Let's get an overview of how this mapping took place, and how it has changed over the centuries. As you read History, Present and Future of Medical Art, courtesy of Karger Publishers, make notes to answer the following questions:

  • What are the major time periods in the development of medical illustration?
  • How did the materials and techniques of this art form change over time?
  • How did the view of the human body and its function change over time?

Write down answers to the questions above. Share your answers with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss:

  • Why would precision and accuracy be more important in medical illustration than in other forms of drawing?
  • What similarities and differences are there between medical illustration and other forms of drawing?
  • Could medical illustration really be considered art? What makes you think this way?

You may have never thought about medical illustration before. It is not only an important tool in the development of better medical treatment, it is extremely interesting to look at.

In the Got It? section, explore some of the fascinating examples of medical illustration from around the world.

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