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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Alessandra Giliani

Flourished circa 1318, Bologna, Italy

Alessandra Giliani was reputedly the surgical assistant to Modino de’ Luzzi (d. 1326), a professor of medicine at the University of Bologna who published a foundational book on anatomy in 1316. Alessandra is said to have specialized in dissections and to have invented the technique of injecting colored dye to view the body’s blood vessels. The original source of information about Giliani is the nineteenth-century historian Michele Medici, who published a history of the Bolognese school of anatomy in 1857; no earlier documentation of Giliani exists.