Trained as a doctor, he began doing illustrations to clarify his understanding of anatomy. “I found that I could learn my subjects best by drawing," he said. His life work of more than 4,000 illustrations grew, he said, “in response to the desires and requests of the medical profession.”
The paintings of bones, muscles, cross sections, and internal organs often use color coding to clarify separate subsystems. Dr. Netter used watercolor and gouache, with colored pencils and pastels for shading and fine detail. He once said:
"It is important to achieve a happy medium between complexity and simplification. If the pictures are too complex, they may be difficult and confusing to read; if oversimplified, they may not be adequately definitive or may even be misleading. I have therefore striven for a middle course of realism without the clutter of confusing minutiae."
His work is collected in the Atlas of Human Anatomy (1989), which is still held up as a gold standard among students of medical illustration. For those interested in studying medical illustration, there are specialized programs at Johns Hopkins in Maryland, the Medical College of Georgia, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Cleveland Institute of Art, and the University of Toronto.
Graphic Witness: link.
Netter Images: link.