Friday, April 04, 2008

Medical illustration in Oregon

As many of you are probably aware, this year marks the sesquicentennial of the publication of Gray's Anatomy, one of the seminal texts in anatomy. Its importance to medical education in America can be (literally) measured by glancing at our shelves here at the OHSU Library, where we have something like 30 editions and derivative works (that's a LOT, for those not familiar with the library's collecting habits).

An exhibit on display this month at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, highlighted recently by Street Anatomy, is focusing not on author Gray but on illustrator Henry Vandyke Carter. This is at it should be, since most everyone who has glanced at an anatomy text can agree that the illustrations hold the key to its success.

Here in Oregon, there was for many years but one medical illustrator: Clarice Ashworth Francone. I highlighted the collection of her papers which we hold here in the Archives back in September of 2007 when a catalog record was created from the finding aid. An exhibit of her work was also mounted by the library in the winter of 2002, shedding light on her crucial role in collaborations with faculty members such as Stanley Jacob, MD, and William Howard, DMD. Francone's drawings helped generations of students master Structure and Function in Man and the principles of operative dentistry, among other topics.

But the human body was not her only muse: she found beauty in buildings, and created this iconic image of the university's Mackenzie Hall (formerly called the Medical Science Building).


Those clouds! Is it just me, or do they resemble some diseased body organ...?

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