Cornelis Troost: The anatomical lesson of Dr. Willem Röell (1728)

(Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

An anatomical lesson by the Dutch painter Cornelis Troost (1696-1750). This piece was commissioned by the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam, probably as a replacement for the 'Anatomical lesson of Dr. Deijman', by Rembrandt which was almost completely destroyed in a fire. The main person on the painting is Willem Röell. He was the professor of Anatomy in Amsterdam. Willem Röell was the assistant and the successor of the famous anatomist Frederik Ruysch (1638–1731). In theory Frederik Ruysch was teaching anatomy to the members of the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam but as Ruysch was already very old, Röell taugth anatomy in practice. In 1727 Willem Röell was elected as the teacher of Anatomy for the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam and this piece can be seen as a visual confirmation of his appointment. Roëll is showing the anatomy of the knee to his colleagues. Present on the painting from left to right:

- Pieter Clevering, servant of the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam 
- Willem Röell, here as assistent-praelector, later professor of Anatomy in Amsterdam
- Theodorus van Brederode, 'Proefmeester' or 'testmaster' of the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam, someone who was responsible for the quality of the products of the guild
- Anthonie Milaan, regent of the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam, he is 1 of the 2 men on the right
- Bernardus van Vijve, regent of the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam, he is 1 of the 2 men on the right

The identity of the 'subiectum anatomicum' is unknown. Anthonie Milaan and Bernardus van Vijve were both part of a affair regarding corruption within the surgeon's-guild of Amsterdam. Regents of the guild were providing surgeon diplomas in exchange for bribes and they were withholding funds intended for the widows of surgeons. After an investigation by the city-council of Amsterdam all the regents of the guild and several former regents of the guild were fired on January 24, 1732, excluding the regent Abraham Titsingh who acted as the whistleblower of this affair. Painting from 1728.

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