chapter  5
21 Pages

Resilient Collections

This 1783 description by the German travel writer Volkmann is one of the last references to the original collection of rarities of the anatomy theatre at Leiden University, combined with the more ‘conventional’ anatomical collections with preparations by Rau, Albinus, Sandifort and others. Volkmann saw the remnants of this old collection – the portraits of the surgeon Cornelis Solingen and of Andreas Grünheide, the Prussian farmer who accidentally swallowed a knife, the mummies and the elephant’s skull – as mere curiosities at the most. Much more attention – and superlatives – is devoted to the ‘vortrefflichen’ preparations by Rau and Albinus, which Volkmann praises for their ‘clarity’ (Klarheit) and ‘perspicacity’ (Durchsichtigheit).2