History of Illustration: Vesalius and Durer

As we have been progressing through the year we have been constantly reminded that we are not just animators, illustrators and graphic designers but that we are all visual designers. I love this idea that we are not limited to only exploring our chosen subject and are encouraged to think of ourselves as general designers, using whatever means we determine best to communicates our ideas. I especially like this concept as although I am passionate about graphic design, and have hence chosen it as my subject, I am also very interested in the fields of illustration and animation as I want to become a well rounded designer and not just another mac monkey. The illustration history lecture  was a lecture that got me excited about this idea as we were shown some amazing works of illustration, some of which I had been lead to believe where not illustrations but fine art pieces as the were regarded so highly.

The works of Andreas Vesalius stood out to me in particular as not only beautiful drawings but works of great importance that helped influence many things. Vesalius is most famous for his elaborate drawings of the human anatomy, drawings which were not only amazing to look at but also for the most part anatomically correct. His illustrations were not only intricately drawn works of art but also helped improve the knowledge doctors had at the time of the human body and helped raise the bar of medical care at the time. The reason I find Vesalius’s works so impressive is because of the huge contributions they made to something outside of the art world. He was not merely observing and capturing visions of the world he lived in but helping mould and change it, an achievement all designers strive towards. I also just love the style of his artwork as I always find myself drawn to works where line has been given a prominent role. The level of detail in Vesalius’s works are astounding especially when you consider we know now that many of his drawing from nearly 500 years ago were very accurate representations of the human body.


As I’m a fan of line determined works it’s pretty obvious that I’m also a fan of the original master of line, Albert Durer. Durer’s work is widely regarded as being some of the best examples of draftsmen ship to come out of the German Renaissance with his attention to detail being obvious in works such as his apocalypse series and “Melancholia”. His treatment of line in his work is unlike anything that came before him with the intricacy of the drawings being something I greatly admire about him. However I think it’s safe to say that nobody admired Durer more than himself as he quite often featured in his own work, sometimes even as Jesus Christ which is possibly the reason he was the first artist to put his signature on all his works, something which today can make or break a piece. Probably the thing I like most about duress’s work is the the generally dark and macabre themes in most of his works. The eeriness of the the devil in “Knight Death and The Devil” and his various renditions of death incarnate are all parts I love to look at for the fact that I love things like them and also because of how well they have been illustrated.


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