Netter, Frank Henry

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Frank Henry Netter, 1906–1991, American physician and medical illustrator, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended City College as well as the National Academy of Design and Art Students League and became a successful commercial artist, but he abandoned that career and entered the New York Univ. School of Medicine (M.D., 1931). After completing (1933) his surgical residency, Netter turned his attention to medical illustration. In 1937 he illustrated an advertisement for the pharmaceutical company CIBA, beginnin a 45-year relationship with the firm (later Ciba-Geigy). Netter created a series of individual organ illustrations for CIBA and then depicted aspects of pathology, later published in the CIBA Collection of Medical Illustrations (1948). The atlases that became his life's work, illustrating the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the systems of the human body, ultimately were published as the Atlas of Human Anatomy (1989). Its illustrations, used by generations of medical students and physicians, mingle a vivid beauty with anatomical precision, earning Netter his reputation as the greatest medical illustrator of the 20th cent. Among his innovations was the depiction of various aspects of a disease or condition—cause, effect, treatment, and complications—in a single picture.

See R. P. Smith and P. J. Turek, ed., The Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations (2d ed., 7 vol., 2013); biography by F. M. Netter, his daughter (2001, repr. 2013).