Bell illustrated his own works, such as The Anatomy of the Human Body. They are certainly harsh enough, but they also show that he was a talented artist with a developed aesthetic sense. Here is an example:
The ropes around the dissected corpses' necks remind the viewer that until the nineteenth century, anatomists were largely dependent upon the bodies of executed criminals for subjects to dissect. Legal, subjects, that is. They had other sources, but that's another story, told elsewhere in this blog.
The connection of dissection with criminal bodies, especially the bodies of murderers, is evident as early as 1543, in Andreas Vesalius' seminal work, On the Fabric of the Human Body.
Anatomical illustrators also connected dissection to religious themes, perhaps a way to justify their grisly work. The illustrations sometimes served as memento mori, or reminders of mortality, as in these images from Vesalius and a work by Bernard Albinus (1747).
Bell may have disliked this sort of thing, but perhaps not. It may be artistic. It certainly isn't soft. Bell probably found the work of Frederik Ruysch (1744) more objectionable, festooned as it is with carefully posed skeletons of infants.
Bell surely disliked Jacques D'Agotys 1773 text on on female anatomy. The calm look of the pregnant woman looking back at the viewer is a characteristic pose of 18th-century French painting, but jars with what is seen below her head, and it isn't terribly helpful from an anatomical or surgical perspective.
The illustration of a woman giving birth was probably even more objectionable to Bell, with it's dreamy, messy, unrealistic, almost modernistic style.
From the mid-19th century, photography and other modern methods of presenting images largely did away with the need for traditional anatomical illustrations. Today, even the general public can view every aspect of human anatomy through the preservation of actual human bodies, as in Gunther von Hagens' exhibition, Body Worlds. One wonders what Bell would have thought of it.