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First Vision, from Mirrors of the Microcosm

A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper (discolored to buff), cut, with etching on ivory laid paper components, laid down on letterpress printed ivory laid paper, and mounted onto cream wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper (discolored to buff), cut, with etching on ivory laid paper components, laid down on letterpress printed ivory laid paper, and mounted onto cream wove paper.

Date:

1613

Artist:

Lucas Kilian
German, 1579-1637

About this artwork

This trio (1944.461, 1944.462, and 1944.521) of engraved, etched, and letterpress-printed anatomical broadsheets by the Augsburg artist Lucas Kilian boast over a hundred superimposed organ flaps. The viewer could dissect its male and female corpses as an educational medical exercise or purely out of morbid curiosity. The first sheet, or Vision, boasts male and female flap figures after Dürer’s 1504 Adam and Eve engraving. The second and third Visions display larger-scale images of Adam and Eve respectively, each standing on a skull with its own flaps. The medical doctor Johann Remmelin, who designed these flap prints as a student, coyly denied responsibility for the 1613 edition until the single-sheet prints appeared to be selling. Then he blessed the reuse of his “unripe fruit” as book illustrations.Perhaps uniquely for flap prints of this era, eighteenth-century restrikes from the plates for the 1619 second state are known. These show how tightly Kilian organized the interior flaps for printing. The etched organ flaps were cut out and pasted on the backs of the main engraved images, which were cut open, forming yet more flaps. Each constructed impression has survived in a different arrangement and bears signs of viewer interaction. The series elicited strong reactions due to its heady mix of allegorical iconography and Vesalian anatomy, made ever more potent by the removable organs and naked flesh. Indeed, an unidentified brown substance was applied to Eve’s genital area under two sets of modesty flaps—an unusual gesture of censorship, or perhaps prayer for offspring.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Lucas Kilian

Title

First Vision, from Mirrors of the Microcosm

Origin

Germany

Date

Printed 1613

Medium

Engraving on ivory laid paper (discolored to buff), cut, with etching on ivory laid paper components, laid down on letterpress printed ivory laid paper, and mounted onto cream wove paper

Dimensions

359 × 265 mm (engraved sheet); 510 × 340 mm (letterpress printed secondary support)

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Ira Frank

Reference Number

1944.521

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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