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Nicolaes Tulp
Nov 07, '21

Nicolaes Tulp

Nicolaes Tulp (9 October 1593 – 12 September 1674) was a Dutch surgeon and mayor of Amsterdam. Tulp was well known for his upstanding moral character and as the subject of Rembrandt's famous painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.


Born Claes Pieterszoon, he was the son of a prosperous merchant active in civic affairs in Amsterdam. From 1611 to 1614 he studied medicine in Leiden. When he returned to Amsterdam he became a respected doctor and in 1617 he married Aagfe Van der Voegh. An ambitious young man, he adopted the tulip as his heraldric emblem and changed his name to Nicolaes (a more proper version of the name Claes) Tulp. He began working in local politics as city treasurer, and in 1622, he became magistrate in Amsterdam.

The career of Tulp matched the success of Amsterdam. As the population of Amsterdam grew from 30,000 in 1580 to 210,000 in 1650, Tulp's career as a doctor and politician made him a man of influence. He drove a small carriage to visit all the patients. Thanks to his connections on the city council, in 1628 Tulp was appointed Praelector Anatomiae at the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons. His wife died in the same year, leaving him with five young children. In 1630 he married his second wife, the daughter of the mayor of Outshoorn and she bore him three children.

It was Tulp who examined and signed the fitness reports for the first Dutch settlers on the island of Manhattan, and his signature was found on these in the long-lost archives of the Dutch settlement uncovered in the 1980s in the basement of the New York public library.

In his job, Tulp was responsible for inspections of apothecary shops. Chemists in Amsterdam had access to an enormous amount of herbs and spices from the East, thanks to the new shipping routes. It became a successful trade and in 1636 there were 66 apothecaries in Amsterdam. Shocked at the exorbitant prices asked for useless anti-plague medicines (Amsterdam was severely hit by the plague in 1635), Tulp decided to do something about it. He gathered his doctor and chemist friends together and they wrote the first pharmacopoeia of Amsterdam in 1636 the Pharmacopoea Amstelredamensis. The Apothecary guild would require an exam based on Tulp's book for new chemists to set up shop in Amsterdam. This pharmacopoeia became a standard work and set an example for all the other cities of Holland.

Rembrandt's painting

The praelector would give yearly anatomy lessons each winter, performing them on victims of public hanging.[3] At that time the dissection of bodies was only legal if the subject was a male criminal and considered outside of the Church. The dissections were performed with the consent of the city council, and were a means to collect funds for city council meetings and dinners. All council and guild members were required to attend and pay an admission fee. Throughout Europe, these dissections were attended by prominent learned men, who exchanged ideas about anatomy and the chemical processes of the human body.

As befits a new praelector, the Guild commissioned a new group portrait of the prominent councilmen and guildmasters. Rembrandt, himself a young man of 26 and new to the city, won this commission and made a famous painting of him: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp. This painting, which now hangs in the Mauritshuis museum of the Hague, depicts Tulp dissecting such a criminal's forearm. There has been much speculation as to why the dissection began on the forearm.

Rembrandt's event depicted in the painting can be dated to 16 January 1632; the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons, of which Tulp was official City Anatomist, permitted only one public dissection a year and the body would have to be that of an executed criminal. The criminal is identified as the robber Aris Kindt. Rembrandt would later make a painting of Tulp's successor in 1656 The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Jan Deijman. Since the painting of Tulp's predecessor in 1619, The Osteology Lesson of Dr Sebastiaen Egbertsz was a group portrait around a skeleton, it is clear that the subject of a dead body had set a precedent. It would be another 100 years before the surgeons were allowed to dissect a female cadaver.

The Books of Monsters

Tulp's illustrated book, showing a page with an orangutan.

His most impressive work on medicine was his Observationes Medicae,[4] published in 1641 and again in 1652 by Lodewijk Elzevir. He wrote the first version for his son who had just graduated from Leiden and dedicated the second edition to him after his death. The book comprises minute descriptions of his work, including 231 cases of disease and death. Some called it the "book of monsters", because Tulp dissected animals brought back from the Dutch East India Company's ships, but also because of the fantastic stories that he relates. An example; Jan de Doot, a blacksmith in Amsterdam, was in such pain from a bladder stone, that he sharpened a knife and removed it himself, because he refused to be the victim of the 'stone cutters'. These were the barber-surgeons who performed such procedures but had a high death rate. To everyone's surprise, Jan de Doot survived this operation which was said to produce a stone the size of an egg. A painting illustrating this story is in the collection of the Anatomy Museum of Leiden.

Tulp minutely described the condition we know as migraine, the devastating effects of tobacco smoking on the lungs, and reveals an understanding of human psychology in a description of the placebo effect. Tulp also discovered the ileocecal valve at the junction of the large and small intestines, still known as Tulp's valve.

While Tulp made observations of various diseases, treatment often continued in the age-old way. His description of the symptoms of Beriberi in a Dutch seaman, for example, went unnoticed until the cause (vitamin B1 deficiency) was recognized two hundred years later by Christiaan Eijkman.

Public Office

Partially as a result of the success of his books, Tulp became Mayor of Amsterdam in 1654, a position he held for four terms. His son Dirck married Anna Burgh, the daughter of Albert Burgh, another Mayor of Amsterdam who had, like Tulp, studied medicine in Leiden in 1614. In 1655 Tulp's daughter Margaretha married Jan Six, whom he helped become a Magistrate of family affairs in Amsterdam. Years later, Six would also become Mayor of Amsterdam. Tulp, impressed by his behaviour, invited Paulus Potter to come to Amsterdam, after a quarrel in the Hague.

In 1673 Tulp was admitted to the Governing Committee of the Republic in The Hague.

Legacy and Death

Tulp is buried in the New Church of Amsterdam. Joost van den Vondel, a period poet, wrote several verses about Tulp. Besides the famous painting by Rembrandt there are more paintings and marble and bronze statues of him. The Holstein painter Jurriaen Ovens painted him twice, as his son and daughter. Also Artus Quellijn made a portrait.


A decade before Rembrandt produced his masterpiece The Night Watch, he was a newly established portrait painter in the Dutch Republic. His first major commission in Amsterdam was a striking painting of a doctor performing a public dissection before a group of fascinated spectators.

Entitled The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, this large group portrait is considered an early triumph for the 26-year-old Rembrandt. It not only exemplifies the style and techniques of the Dutch Golden Age but also demonstrates the artist's theatrical approach to a genre that was typically quite static.

List of works about Rembrandt

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606–1669) is one of the most famous controversial, and best expertly researched (visual) artists in history.

Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

The Nieuwe Kerk (Dutch: [ˈniʋə ˈkɛr(ə)k], New Church[1]) is a 15th-century church in Amsterdam located on Dam Square, next to the Royal Palace. Formerly a Dutch Reformed Church parish, it now belongs to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.,_Amsterdam


Frequency and Resonance

Dr Ian Charles Baillie

1969 - 1973 (15 - 19 years of age) Worked in Boots the Chemist, Ramsgate Branch with the aim become a Pharmacist.

1973 Failed get offered a student place to study medicine at the Westminster Hospital but got accepted for a place to study Pharmacy at Brighton Polytechnic University.

In the autumn of that year got accepted for a unconditional place to study at The University of Newcastle upon Tyne for the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Agricultural Zoology for 1974.

Studied at Newcastle 1974 - 77 (20 - 23).

Also learned Dutch and worked in The Netherlands for the Gezondsheiddienst voor Dieren where among other things I spent my time working in the Dissection Room (Sectie Kamer), pathologically dissecting farm animals in order to establish cause of death and the ENCEBE in Boxtel provincie Noord Brabant 1975 - 78.

1999 awarded a Doctorate PhD in Quantum Physics for demonstrating that Memory Survives Mortality (45).

Entered Teaching with a Post Graduate Certificate of Education with Honours 1978 (24).

After a successful career of 33 years suffered a major heart attack in 2009 (55) and had a successful heart operation for a quadruple bypass using the radial artery from the left arm and one from the chest to fix it.

Saturday October 30, 2021 (67) found a second portrait of General William Baillie. Dated 1657.

Friday November 5, 2021 (67) discovered my link to Nicolaes Tulp.

“I always said that if I were to become a Doctor I would a Surgeon and work for the Army!”.

General William Baillie

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Nov 07, '21
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