Neuroscience in Renaissance Religious Paintings

FL Mershberger (1990) An interpretation of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam based on neuroanatomy: "God, in the process of creating Adam, gives him the gift of ‘intellect,’ symbolized by the brain."

In the Renaissance, artists studied anatomy almost by necessity in order to capture a more lifelike portrayal of the human body in their art. But did they go a step further and try to incorporate neuroscience (in form of anatomically correct brain) in their paintings?

Here's a neat post from Street Anatomy exploring a recent article published by neuroscientists about brain imagery in Renaissance religious masterpieces:

During the Renaissance, scholars began to rely more on empirical evidence, especially in the anatomical sciences. The teachings of Galen, which were often based on studies of animals rather than humans, dominated for centuries. It wasn’t until Da Vinci and Vesalius came along that anatomy was jump-started once again. Artists were especially fascinated, but with most of their commissions coming from the religious clergy, how could they show off their deeper knowledge of the human body without being sacreligious? They had to hide it in their artwork.


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

For Leela. Michelangelo certainly studied male anatomy with passion most of his life. It got him in serious troubles with the authorities. In spite of the fact that a number of them shared the same interest, those in command were nevertheless strongly opposed -- officially -- to this particular form of love. Michelangelo was not the only one though.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You could take many images and superimpose them on the fresco.

I can see it as a deep black hole that God appears to mankind from the sky....Von Daniken style.

I see it as the cosmic anus, God and his minion followers are the colon blow out and mankind is just about to be hit with a ton of crap.

Everything is up to interpretation and debate.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Exodus 11:5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
11:6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
11:7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel

For example, God kills 70,000 innocent people because David ordered a census of the people (1 Chronicles 21). God also orders the destruction of 60 cities so that the Israelites can live there. He orders the killing of all the men, women, and children of each city, and the looting of all of value (Deuteronomy 3). He orders another attack and the killing of “all the living creatures of the city: men and women, young, and old, as well as oxen sheep, and asses” (Joshua 6). In Judges 21, He orders the murder of all the people of Jabesh-gilead, except for the virgin girls who were taken to be forcibly raped and married. When they wanted more virgins, God told them to hide alongside the road and when they saw a girl they liked, kidnap her and forcibly rape her and make her your wife! Just about every other page in the Old Testament has God killing somebody! In 2 Kings 10:18-27, God orders the murder of all the worshipers of a different god in their very own church! In total God kills 371,186 people directly and orders another 1,862,265 people murdered.
When the Jewish people invaded Canaan at God's comand, they slaughtered everyone and took their land.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Nite, please ellaborate on what ethnicity and race you would be to get eternal damnation.

In what way am I being a "sheep" by believing in one thing? How is thinking one thing not thinking rationally? until scientists prove or disprove the validity of anything supernatural it's another theory.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
If you don't follow the Abrahamic dood you get eternal damnation. If you commit a mortal sin, you get eternal damnation. If you are a certain ethnicity, you get eternal damnation. If you live a gay lifestyle, you get eternal damnation. If you are a certain race, you get eternal damnation. (all according to a fictional book written by goat herders 2000 years ago- like 'whoa')

It's no wonder even learned scientists and free-thinkers in the past had to pretend to believe in God, just to conform with all the sheep who would rather hedge their bets than to think rationally.

Whereas once I could have been killed for being sacrelegious, today I enjoy the progress we have made as a civilization in our rapidly declining belief in the supernatural. Yes, science is filling in the gaps. That's why I proclaim my infidel status every moment I get, to hasten our society away from the oppressive nature of the Abrahamic dood.

(gets off soapbox)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Neuroscience in Renaissance Religious Paintings"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More