Image maker

“He has advanced our understanding of anatomy more than any other medical illustrator since the 16th century…

Michael Be Bakey

Frank Netter was born in New York in 1906. He acquired a night school degree in drawing and had early success as an artist for the New York Times. His parents thought that art was not a real career, so under their pressure he studied medicine and later trained as a surgeon. As a newly qualified surgeon during the depression, business was terrible. Netter fell back on freelance art to pay his bills. In 1926 the CIBA Pharmacetical Company (later Novartis), commissioned him to produce images for the marketing of their new drugs digoxin and novocain. He received $7500 for 5 images and never practiced clinical medicine again. During his career more than 4000 illustrations were produced, one researched and completed every three days over 50 years. His art took two forms. Firstly anatomical images that encompassed the views of an operating surgeon. He also produced a series of series of pathology and clinical brochures for CIBA. These were not cartoons, but fully accomplished pieces of art. The images capture the emotion and human elements of disease.

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