London, British Library, 548.i.2.(1)

Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica Facsimile Edition

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In the De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), the most famous anatomist of the Renaissance, described the human body with a previously unprecedented level of detail. Partly inspired by Leonardo, Vesalius strongly relied on the experiences of his dissections.

The book contains descriptions and illustrations of the structure, functioning, and pathology of the human body, with its various parts named in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The author also included the opinions of other anatomists into his work.

The more than 250 illustrations are of great artistic merit and are generally attributed by modern scholars to the “studio of Titian”, especially his former apprentice Jan Stephan van Calcar.

They portray the human body in progressive stages of dissection, set before a landscape and posed according to the Renaissance taste for Classical sculpture. In one plate, for example, a skeleton rests its elbow on a tomb with its skull bent in contemplation of mortality.

The woodcuts were greatly superior to the illustrations of anatomical atlases of the day, which were never made by anatomy professors themselves.

Vesalius’ works are based on his lectures at the University of Padua, during which he personally dissected corpses to illustrate what he was discussing. Dissections had previously been performed by a barber-surgeon under the direction of a doctor of medicine, who was expected not to perform any manual labor.

Andreas Vesalius’ masterpiece would not have been achieved without the many improvements of the Renaissance, including both artistic developments in visual representation and technical developments of printing refined woodcut engravings.

Sources

  • Images courtesy of the British Library

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica": Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica facsimile edition, published by Pytheas Books, 2004

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Printed book description compiled by the publisher.

Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Budapest: Pytheas Books, 2004

  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Beautiful mottled end paper.

Binding

The cover is made from wood and it is bound in leather with copper decoration on the corners and in the middle of the book case. The book closes with 4 copper clasps. On the spine, a black leather label with guilded letters and guilded decoration.

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