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Turns Out Michelangelo And Da Vinci Trafficked Dead Bodies For Their Art

Updated 6 Dec 2018 24.0k views13 items

Picture the amazing works of Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – the Mona Lisa, David, the Sistine Chapel. Now picture a corpse. It's a jarring juxtaposition, but the master artists of the Italian Renaissance learned how to create such realistic, beautiful masterpieces by studying corpses. Renaissance anatomy was a new field, and artists were at the forefront. Famous anatomical artists, including da Vinci and Michelangelo, knew more about the human body than most doctors.

Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomy art shaped medicine for 500 years, and Michelangelo’s anatomy drawings stripped away the skin to understand how muscles worked. But these artists had to work hard to gain access to corpses – just like other grave robbers throughout history. Michelangelo traded art for corpses, although there was a rumor that he also turned to murder, like the Burke and Hare bodysnatchers. And da Vinci literally waited outside of hospitals for people to die so that he could dissect them.

These Renaissance artists were using dissection for a good cause; they wanted to understand the human body so that they could make stunning works of art. But in this case, do the ends justify the means? 

PopularArtLeonardo Da VinciMichelangeloHistoryWeird HistoryRenaissanceArt History