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16th Century

Modern anatomy orginated with Andreas Vesalius who first provided a look inside the human body based on dissection.

VESALIUS, Andreas.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica . . . Venice: Franciscum Franciscium Senensem, & Joannem Criegher, 1568.

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) is considered the founder of modern human anatomy -- prior anatomical study had been based mostly on animal cadavers. He carefully supervised the artists who created accurate and artful illustrations. The artistry reflects the influence of Titian, whose school was a dominant influence in Venice at the time. Although no one has been able to identify the artists who contributed to this work, it is probable that Titian himself drew some of the plates.

This posthumous 1568 edition on display is smaller than earlier editions and is based on woodcuts reproduced by Johann Criegher. It joins the library's copy of the first edition of 1543.

Andreae Vesalii Bruxellensis Icones Anatomicae. Ediderunt Academia Medicinae Nova-Eboracensis et Bibliotheca Universitatis Monacensis. New York: McFarlane, Warde, 1934.

Vesalius was known for the quality of woodcut engravings employed in his work. The wood was probably soaked in hot linseed oil before being used, thus allowing fine cuts to be made. The blocks lasted with little deterioration for over 400 years, and they were used for impressions as recently as 1934 in a cooperative venture between the New York Academy of Medicine and the University of Munich. The superb clarity of the illustration in this facsimile demonstrates the quality and durability of the original blocks. Unfortunately, the blocks were destroyed during bombing in World War II.

VALVERDE, Juan de.

Anatome Corporis Humani . . . Venice: Studio et industria Juntarum, 1589.

Juan de Valverde (1525-1587) borrowed heavily from Vesalius because, in his own words, "[Vesalius'] illustrations are so well done it would look like envy or malignity not to take advantage of them." (Refer to the corresponding plate in the preceding texts on display.)

Valverde's editions sold well in Spain because they were smaller and less expensive than early editions by Vesalius, and they were written in Spanish rather than Latin. Despite the popularity of these works, many were critical of Valverde's accuracy as an anatomist.

The illustrations are fine examples of copperplate engravings.

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