Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
The spring semester of my junior year at St. Lawrence I spent in Tuscania, Italy. When Italy comes to mind, in the middle of the images of fine wine and robust pasta dishes, Renaissance art is generally among the first things that pop into your head. And I, as well, saw the semester in Italy as the perfect opportunity to further research I had already begun my sophomore year dealing with Renaissance art in combination with the field of anatomical illustration. I had begun this research in The Scientific Revolution, as class taught by Dr. Karen Johnson. We had been prompted to discover a way in which the science that was being newly discovered during the Scientific Revolution affected other disciplines. The advancements that were made during this period in the field of human anatomy were monumental and provided the first looks under the skin for an accurate picture of human composition.I was interested in observing the art work done by Italian Renaissance artists that were known for their in-depth study of human anatomy. I traveled from Tuscania to the Museo del Bargello, in Florence, Italy, to visit Andrea Verrocchio’s “David” in person. I studied the sculpture for evidence of anatomical knowledge and precision in its compositional detail. The chance to see a work in person versus a photograph is really night and day in terms of analysis. This is especially true in the case of a 3D bronze sculpture. The photos don’t catch the delicate reproduction of the veins under the skin and slight variations in muscle tone.
The second phase of my research was to be a visit to the Museum of Human Anatomy, located in Pisa, Italy. I traveled to Pisa at two points during the semester, each time with the mission of finding this museum. On the first trip, I found the Institute of Human Anatomy but at the wrong time. So the second trip I knew right where to go. However, things did not go as planned and after an hour of conversation in broken Italian and three phone calls, I was turned away and told that there was no museum for me to visit. I left with my feet dragging, but no less excited about the chance to see Verrocchio’s “David.”
I am grateful for the generous donation from the Clare Marie Rogers Matthews Memorial to fund this opportunity to enrich my abroad experience.