Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Sawing to the bone

This illustration, believed to be the frontispiece of one of the surgical texts by Walter Hermann Ryff, is perhaps one of the more realistic for its time. During this era, anatomical and medical texts tended to be fairly bloodless, portraying flayed human beings in states of repose. Here instead we see a leg amputation with the patient bearing down on the pain and blood flowing into a bucket below. The color almost masks the truth of the scene as the surgeon’s striped garments obscure the action.

Illustration of a leg amputation from 1548
Frontispiece from Grossen Chirugie (Great Surgery) by Walter Hermann Ryff. d. 1548. The Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library.



Fall 2019   |  Sections  |  Surgery

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