ILLUSTRATED ANATOMY – CZECH PROVENANCE

Theatrum anatomicum.

[Frankfurt am Main], heirs of T. de Bry & Matthäus Becker, 1605.

£4,500

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xvi) 1314 [i.e. 1308] (iv), (viii) 198 (ii), (xlvi), plates included. Engraved architectural t-p with female figures of anatomy and medicine (?), author’s engraved portrait to verso (small hole and repaired worm trail), engraved arms of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt to verso of first, 131 handsome full-page engravings of dissected bodies, organs and limbs, decorated initials and ornaments. Uniform light age browning, ink splash to lower inner corner of second part touching couple of plates, single small worm hole to last few ll. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, traces of ties, yapp edges, triple blind ruled, lettered spine, institutional arms 1613 with Latin motto, monogram ‘SRD’ and ‘1619’ all gilt to upper cover, C19 bookplate on front pastedown, casemark ‘BBB 1’ and C18 arms of Ignaz Dominik S.R.I., Count Chorinsky and Baron Ledske to fly.

A very good copy, in fresh impression, of the first edition of this beautifully illustrated manual of anatomy—here probably a prize copy. ‘The merit of Bauhin’s work consists…in the compiling and revising of subject-matter already known. He did this in a scholarly fashion and with expert knowledge, and was thus able to produce a work that was both welcome and useful to his time’ (Choulant, ‘Hist. and bib. of anat. ill.’, 229). Gaspard Bauhin (1560-1624) was a Swiss botanist, whose work influenced Linnaeus, and a surgeon, a pupil of the renowned Girolamo Mercuriale at Padua. He was later professor of both at Basel. ‘Theatrum’ had a practical purpose, hence the fundamental importance of the illustrations—all reduced copies of plates from major anatomical works by Vesalius, Eustachius and others—marking with letters the limb or organ sections described. When, in ‘L’Homme’, Descartes discussed the seat of imagination, he identified the dedicated brain gland simply as ‘H’ referring to one of Bauhin’s plates, taking for granted the reader’s knowledge of that major work (Bitbol-Hespériès, ‘Cartesian physiology’, 358). Like all anatomical manuals, ‘Theatrum’ provided an encyclopaedic, fully illustrated head-to-heel dissection of the human body. The four books cum tabulae discussed the brain, heart, ears, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and reproductive organs. The thorough index and the appendix (published independently in 1600 but integral here) were indispensable for quick consultation. An influential, beautifully illustrated anatomical manual.

Ignaz Dominik S.R.I. (1729-92), Count of Chorinsky and Baron of Ledske, was a major Czech bibliophile and renowned collector. His library, which long remained in the family seat at Velké Hoštice, was sold in the course of three auctions in 1930. Passionate about art and architecture, he also owned a few medical books; the anatomical illustrations in this copy must have elicited his art historical interest.

BL STC Ger. C17 B375; Wellcome I, 724; Graesse I, 313; Heirs of Hippocrates 246; Choulant, p. 229. A. Bitbol-Hespériès, ‘Cartesian Physiology’, in Descartes’ Natural Philosophy, ed. S. Gaukroger et al. (London, 2000), 349-82; L. Slavíček, ‘Ignác Dominik hrabě Chorynský z Ledské jako sběratel obrazů a knih’, Opuscula Historiae Artium 64 (2015), 158-205.

L3124

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