The Osteology Lesson of Sebastiaen Egbertszn (1619)

F. F.A. IJpma, T. M. van Gulik

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review


In 1619 the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons commissioned a recognized Dutch painter to make a group portrait of the governors. This masterpiece is known as The Osteology Lesson of Sebastiaen Egbertszn. Egbertszn, praelector anatomiae (lecturer in anatomy), is depicted while demonstrating the human bones using the skeleton of an English pirate. The subject of this painting reminds us of the doctrine of osteology as part of the former surgical training. The lives and work of the represented governors of the guild and their teacher Sebastiaen Egbertszn, as well as details of the skeleton, are discussed after examination of the literature and original guild documents pertaining to the painting.
The Osteology Lesson of Sebastiaen Egbertszn (1619) is a group portrait of the governors of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons. It represents one of a series of nine anatomy lessons commissioned in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sebastiaen Egbertszn, who was the praelector anatomiae (lecturer in anatomy) at that time, is depicted demonstrating human bone anatomy using the skeleton of an executed pirate. Egbertszn died during a plague epidemic only 2 years after the painting was delivered and the identity of the artist remains contentious to this day. It is exhibited in the Amsterdam Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-316
Number of pages1
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date15-Feb-2017
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2017

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