Viktor Hamburger spent a large part of his career investigating limb development in vertebrate embryos. Building on his dissertation work, in which he studied the innervation of limb buds in amphibian embryos, Hamburger turned to chick limb development in the early 1930s. By removing or transplanting limb buds in early-staged chick embryos using micro-surgical techniques, Hamburger uncovered the relationship between developing limbs and the nerves that innervate them.
The success of Hamburger’s experimental studies relied heavily on drawings and micrographs. These images were important for careful observation of experimental outcomes and for recording the exact surgical procedure. In many of his drawings, Hamburger illustrated step-by-step exactly what manipulation was being done where on the embryo. As transplanted limb buds developed in the donor embryo, Hamburger visually documented the morphology of the limb and the response of the developing nervous system.