Artists under the skin: launch event and lecture

6 Feb 2019

Regular hours

10:00 – 17:00

Cost of entry

£5 standard, £4 concessions (plus Eventbrite booking fee)
Concessions include: RCP members & fellows, full-time students and jobseekers

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Royal College of Physicians Museum

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Tube: Great Portland Street
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Join the Royal College of Physicians museum for the opening of its new exhibition ‘Under the skin: illustrating the human body’, an exploration of the art and science of anatomical illustration from the medieval world to the present day.


Throughout history physicians, printers, surgeons and artists have developed tools and techniques to depict human anatomy and communicate what is hidden inside the human form. The results – masterpieces of artistry and technology – capture the beautiful and unsettling shapes, structures and textures of organs, bones and tissues.

New displays peel back the surface of human existence to reveal what lies under the skin. Rarely seen artworks, books and objects from the Royal College of Physicians outstanding library, archive and museum collections go on public show in this unique exhibition. Demonstrating how, as a species, we are fascinated by the contents of our complex and fragile bodies.

This special opening event also includes a lecture by Annette Wickham, curator of works on paper at the Royal Academy of Arts, examining how artists have engaged with human anatomy throughout time, devising innovative techniques for representing the three dimensions of the body in two dimensional images.

The talk features 2D drawings, prints and illustrations plus 3D écorché figures, many drawn from the Royal Academy’s collections, to illustrate artists’ exploration of anatomy in 18th and 19th centuries. Annette also addresses the controversial question:

How much anatomical knowledge did artists really need?

The exhibition and event are part of Thinking 3D an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and communication of three-dimensionality and its impact on the arts and sciences. 

Event programme

From 6pm: Reception and exhibition viewing

7-8pm: Speeches and lecture, Dorchester Library

8-8.30pm: Exhibition viewing and cash bar


Sarah Backhouse

Katie Birkwood

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Angela Palmer

Sir Thomas Lawrence

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