Introducing the EAU24 Congress gift: Urology in Art

For 2024, the EAU History Office has a new Congress Gift lined up for EAU members in Paris. Representing the culmination of several years’ work, Urology in Art is a collaboration between five History Office members, each contributing from his own area of interest. Together, the book examines cultural representations and paints a picture (!) of urology and the urologist throughout the ages.

Mon, 11 Mar 2024
EAU 24EAU History Office

We spoke to Prof. Dirk Schultheiss (DE), former chairman of the EAU History Office and “initiating author” of this new research project.

What did you set out to achieve when you had the idea for this newest publication?

We want to show the reader the many aspects and the history of urology in pictures. We want to quite literally open the readers’ eyes as to how urology and urologists were depicted in art over the past centuries.

The initial inspiration for the book was the desire to present relatively modern artistic portraits of urologists and medical doctors. The overlap between art and urology however goes so much further, for example in the medical illustrations by Leonard da Vinci. His hand-drawn cross sectional anatomical studies are a clear precursor to modern-day CT-scans.

Compared to previous “congress gift” books published by the History Office, for instance those by Dr. Mattelaer, this book sets itself apart by being broad: rather than focusing on urination or sex alone, we try to cover all aspects of urology, including the urologist.

This book is a collaboration of five authors, including all three (former) chairmen of the EAU History Office. How did this come to be such a joint effort?

The project started as a more solitary effort, a one-man show mainly dealing with the portraits of medical doctors. This gradually expanded over the past few years. Because we had no congress in 2020 and 2021, books like Roma Intima (published 2020 and distributed in 2022) and Cache-Sexe (envisioned for 2022 and distributed in 2023) took the foreground.

Discussing the book at our board meetings inspired the other History Office members to contribute from their own area of expertise. Javier Angulo from Spain and Jonathan Goddard from the UK are esteemed authors in their own right and we are glad to have their contributions on board.

As we approached 2024, [Chairman] Philip [Van Kerrebroeck] took upon himself the giant task to bring it all together and coordinate the editing process.

The book covers a lot of different topics. What are some of your favourites that the reader should look out for?

We indeed have such a wide variety contained in the book: depictions of doctors, patients, urological disease, depictions of surgical procedures and techniques, all seen from different cultures and periods.

The section on portraits focuses on the post Renaissance modern era, whereas the section on depictions of urology patients goes from prehistory right up till the 20th century. The section on urology in non-Western art can introduce readers to materials they might be really unfamiliar with.

Why does the EAU publish books like this?

The EAU Executive supports the History Office’s mission to inform our fellow urologists about the history of our specialty. This not only (hopefully) inspires our members, but also helps strengthen urology as a field. By examining and documenting its past, we give urology its own distinct identity separate from general surgery. As an association of urology, preserving and promoting the field is an essential mission and books like this contribute to that.

In this specific case, the book also represents an opportunity to share the History Office members’ passion for art with our colleagues!

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This article first appeared in the January-February 2024 edition of European Urology Today.