“We should thank Hendriksen for unraveling the lost histories [of anatomical preparations], and for providing a highly readable and richly argued volume on the emergence of medical knowledge and the origins of anatomical collections. It is highly recommended for historians of medicine, museum scholars, and students of the origins of aesthetics.”

 – Daniel Margocsy, review in Early Science and MedicineVolume 21, Issue 6, p. 609 – 611



In Elegant Anatomy, I offer an account of the material culture of the eighteenth-century Leiden anatomical collections, which have not been studied in detail before. The novel analytical concept of aesthesis is introduced, as these historical medical collections may seem strange, and undeniably have a morbid aesthetic, yet are neither curiosities nor art.

As this book deals with issues related to the keeping and displaying of historical human remains, it is highly relevant for material culture and museum studies, cultural history, the history of scientific collections and the history of medicine alike. Unlike existing literature on historical anatomical collections, this book takes the objects in the collections as its starting point, instead of the people that created them.

The book is available in print and as an e-book from Brill.

M.M.A. Hendriksen, Elegant Anatomy. The Eighteenth-Century Leiden Anatomical Collections. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015.


More praise for Elegant Anatomy:

“…her work on the cultural history of the anatomical aethesis of the eighteenth century makes excellent use of information about the intentions and practices of anatomical preparators, along with a close study of some of the items themselves.”

– Harold Cook, review in Isis —Volume 107, Number 1, March 2016