Posted March 6, 2013 by Dr. Henri Montandon in art

Vesalius for our age

We see through the eye, not with it. – William Blake

Professional training is arduous, expensive, and frequently humiliating, but there are perks. Judges in judiciary school get discounts on gavels. Theoretical physicists need spend little on wardrobes. In medical school, I got a great deal on the nine volume CIBA collection of medical illustrations, more commonly known as the “Netter drawings.” The most current version (1994) sells for $2400.00.

Frank Netter, M.D. was the Vesalius of our age. In a 50 year career, he produced 4000 paintings of all aspects of human anatomy. The depictions are both highly detailed and idealized, frequently accompanied by lengthy captions replete with  descriptions more informative and lucid than most anatomy books. Neuroscience has pride of place; Volume 1 portrays the nervous system.

The Netter drawings are coveted and expensive. But for those who enjoy leaping through the looking glass of our computer, netbook or tablet screens, hundreds of the images are now available for free at The images appear to be in a vector graphic format, i.e. you can enlarge them to fill your screen with no loss of resolution. (The captions, alas, are not included.) Lest anything go uncommercialized, the entire Netter oeuvre is available in various formats, even including the now standard array of chotzkes, e.g. Netter mugs, Netter T’s, Netter mobile phone cases, and everything else floating in the ocean of world commerce. It’s likely that today’s medical students get discounts on these items, also.




Dr. Henri Montandon