Brain Pickings

Anatomical Flap-Up Illustrations from 1901 Adapted as Animated GIFs


Peeling away the layers of the body, over and over.

A couple of years ago, a dear friend gave me one of the most wonderful presents I’ve ever received — three pages from a rare antique anatomical textbook published in 1901, featuring gorgeous flap-up illustrations by E. J. Stanley. Each fold-out consists of three layers, peeling which reveals a different dimension of the body — from skin to muscle and bone to organ and tissue. After the success of that Victorian pop-up book, I decided to adapt the illustrations as animated GIFs, sequencing the three layers for each page.

Delightful, no?

Complement with The Human Body: What It Is And How It Works, a vibrantly illustrated vintage anatomy gem from 1959, illuminating “the highest performance machine in the world.”

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