January 28th, 2013 Headsman
“On January 28th 1656, there was punished Joris Fonteyn [or Fonteijn] of Diest, who by the worshipful lords of the law court was granted to us an anatomical specimen. On the 29th Dr. Joan Deyman made his first demonstration on him in the Anatomy Theatre, three lessons altogether”.”
-Records of the Amsterdam Anatomy Theatre (cited in this pdf)
Dr. Joan Deyman had succeeded Dr. Nicolaes Tulp in the redoubtable position of the guild’s Praelector Anatomiae — the physician entrusted with the guild’s once-per-year public anatomical reading over the dissection of an executed criminal. In his day, Tulp and his dissection had been painted by Rembrandt.
With the new praelector in the wealthy city came its guild’s need for fresh art to keep up with the Joneszes.
New subject, new work … but the same artist. A mere sapling when he rendered Dr. Tulp, Rembrandt was a fully mature painter of 50 when he put this scene to canvas.
Sadly, this painting was damaged in a 1731 fire, destroying most of its figures, including the titular one.
Braaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnnssssssssss! Dr. Deyman’s hands are all that remain of him. The cadaverous Joris Fonteyn, however, belongs to the ages.
Since it was part of the anatomization law for the unfortunate subjects to be given a decent burial, Fonteyn’s exit from the annals of history is another entry (pdf) in the surgeon’s guilds records:
Wednesday, February 2, at 9 o’clock in the evening the body was interred with fitting dignity in the South Churchyard.
Also on this date
- 1697: John Fenwick, bitter
- 1829: William Burke, eponymous body-snatcher
- Themed Set: The Medical Gaze
- 2010: Five for the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- 1953: Derek Bentley, controversially
- 1853: Nicholas Saul and William Howlett, teenage New York gangsters