A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
AN ARTIST OF HUMAN REMAINS - The Macabre Creations of Frederik Ruysch
A Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with the founder of Morbid Anatomy, Joanna Ebenstein
Tuesday 4th October 2022 at 7:00 pm

Dutch anatomist and museologist Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731) is best remembered today for his strange tableaux crafted from foetal skeletons and other human remains. These elegant and troubling pieces flicker provocatively at the edges of science, art, and memento mori. Ruysch exhibited them - along with hundreds of other artful specimens - in his home museum and catalogued them in his lavishly illustrated Thesaurus Anatomicus.

Peter the Great of Russia was so enchanted with Ruysch’s preparations that he bent down to kiss one, before going on to purchase the entire collection. The affective power of these anatomical specimens was so great that they were sometimes referred to as “Rembrandts of anatomical preparation.” They continued to fascinate for centuries, making appearances in Honoré de Balzac’s 1831 novel La Peau de Chagrin (The Wild Ass’s Skin) and inspiring a nineteenth-century literary fantasia about an encounter between the anatomist and his collection of dead children come back to life (Giacomo Leopardi’s Dialogue between Frederick Ruysch and His Mummies, 1827).

This talk will explore the life, work and lore of this enigmatic and fascinating “artist of death."

Tickets £5 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Joanna Ebenstein
Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, curator, photographer and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was co-founder (with Tracy Hurley Martin) and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. Her books include Anatomica: The Exquisite and Unsettling Art of Human Anatomy, Death: A Graveside Companion, Frederik Ruysch and His Thesaurus Anatomicus: A Morbid Guide, The Anatomical Venus and The Morbid Anatomy Anthology (with Colin Dickey). Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.

PLEASE NOTE - This talk will take place virtually via Zoom. Ticket sales will end at 5:00 pm BST on the day of the lecture. A link to the conference will be sent to the email used at checkout at 3:00 pm BST on the day of the event. Please email suzette@acuriousinvitation.com in the event your link fails to arrive. Please note this talk will be recorded and can be sent free of charge to ticket holders by request.

Image Credit - A depiction of one of Ruysch's displays, as featured in Alle de ontleed- genees- en heelkindige werken...van Fredrik Ruysch... Public Domain.