British Council 'Knowledge is GREAT' Lecture Series 2017 and University of Warwick

Tuesday 18 April 2017

British Council and The University of Warwick

Proudly Present:

The Tiger Bronzes by Michelangelo: An Anatomical Whodunnit

By Professor Peter Abrahams, Warwick Medical School

About the Lecture:

“A bronze sculpture by Michelangelo is one of the lost Holy Grails of art history.We know he made them, but the most important – an over life-size figure of Pope Julius II – was destroyed by the enraged citizens of Bologna (who had a grudge against the pontiff) a few years after it was made.A bronze David by Michelangelo vanished during the French Revolution.So that, it has always been concluded, was that.” Martin Gayford , Chief Art Critic, The Spectator

In February 2015 the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, made headlines when a team of academics and experts proposed that two unsigned and undocumented metre-high bronzes of athletic male nudes riding feline beasts were, in fact, cast from models made by Michelangelo.

The novel collaboration – involving a clinical anatomist from Warwick Medical School, engineers from Warwick Manufacturing Group, art historians from the University of Cambridge, conservation scientists from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, metallurgists from University of Birmingham – came about when a Cambridge professor of art history connected a drawing by one ofMichelangelo’s apprentices with the two mysterious Renaissance bronzes that once belonged to the collection of Baron Adolphe de Rothschild.

In the 20th century, the bronzes were variously attributed to Tiziano Aspetti, Jacope Sansovino, and other artists, but the statues were mostly forgotten.They resurfaced in 1957 when they were sold to a French private collector, and appeared in a Sotheby’s sale in 2002, where they went under the hammer for US$1.8m.

The connection between the bronzes and a sheet of drawings by Michelangelo’s student prompted further art-historical research, which roped in one of the UK’s top clinical anatomists, Professor Peter Abrahams, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Anatomy at Warwick Medical School, and Life Fellow at Girton College, University of Cambridge.Professor Abrahams brought a clinical anatomist’s perspective to the world of art, and his scientific examination of the sculptures’ anatomy showed that certain anatomical features on the bronzes could only have been known by someone who had dissected the human body or who had attended dissections.

Join Professor Abrahams for an anatomical whodunnit, and discover how he and the other assembled experts from diverse fields pieced together the clues that led them to conclude that the Tiger Bronzes are very likely the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world.

Timings and Location

The lecture will be held at Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road Singa­pore 178957. Directions can be found here.

Registration will commence promptly at 6.00 p.m.

6.00 p.m. - Arrival and Registration

6.30 p.m. - Professor Peter Abrahams to commence talk

7.10 p.m. - Question and Answer Session

7.30 p.m. - Networking Reception

8.30 p.m. - Event to Close

Please note: Timings may vary.

All registrations are subject to availability and accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. The Organizer however reserves the right to limit and/or refuse any registration without assigning any reason.

We will confirm all valid registrations with a reminder email. If you do not receive a reminder email but have a valid registration please email us at education@britishcouncil.org.sg.

About the Speaker:

Professor Peter Abrahams

Professor Abrahams, Professor of Clinical Anatomy, has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in his medicine, having held the post of Clinical Anatomist at University College London and later at Cambridge (where he is a Life Fellow of Girton College), before taking the new Chair or Clinical Anatomy at Warwick Medical School in 2006.

He trained in London as a physician (MD) after a memorable stint with the VSO teaching English and Geography in ‘Ulu’ Sarawak, Borneo, in the late 1960s.Although he had intended to become a surgeon, Professor Abrahams was side-tracked into anatomy after writing Clinical Anatomy of Practical Procedures with Webb in 1973.This led to a British Fulbright Scholarship (1975-6) at the University of Iowa Medical School, United States

He has worked as an educational and anatomical consultant for the World Health Organisation, set up a new school in Beersheba, and has examined and lectured doctors and surgeons in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the United States, and throughout Europe.He is at present Consultant to LKCMedicine at Nanyang Technological University.

In addition, Professor Abrahams is a prolific author of anatomical textbooks and electronic teaching resources in many languages. He was awarded the BMA electronic publishing prize and the IMAS prize for Interactive Skeleton CD-ROM in 2993, and the medical textbook he co-authored with Craven and Lumley won The Richard Asher Prize awarded by the Royal Society of Medicine in 2005.Other major publications include the McMinn and Abrahams Clinical Atlas of Human Anatomy, now in its 7th edition and with Weir, Imaging Atlas of Human Anatomy, which is in its 5th edition and over 15 different language editions.

In 2006, the American Association of Clinical Anatomists recognised Professor Abrahams as an international clinical anatomist, teacher, author, and family doctor with the award of "Honored Member status" in the organisation.

Professor Abrahams won the Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence just a year after he joined Warwick Medical School. He went on to receive a National Teaching Fellowship, the UK's most prestigious award for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning, in 2011.

Professor Abrahams still does occasional clinics in “real metropolitan, inner city medicine” as an NHS General Practitioner in London, and has managed to combine his 30-year passion for art history with his specialisation in clinical anatomy, having taught for a decade “Anatomy for Artists” at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, a course that continues to run today.More recently, he was a consultant to Buckingham Palace, co-curating the Mechanics of Man exhibition in 2013 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, on the anatomy drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.