Syntagma anatomicum.

Padua, typis Paolo Frambotto, 1647.


4to. pp. (xvi) 274 (xiv). Roman letter, with Italic. Attractive engraved t-p illustrating lesson in the anatomical theatre of the University of Padua, flanked by two allegorical female figures; printer’s device to second t-p; 23 fine engravings of dissected bodies, blood vessels and organs; decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Marginal ink spotting in a few places. Illustrations in very good impression, gutter of second reinforced. A very good copy in contemporary vellum. Ex-libris of ‘J[ohannes?] Fabris(?) Rect. de (?) 1730’.

A very good copy of the FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of this popular anatomy text for medical students. Johann Vesling (1598-1649) was a German scholar of botany and medicine, who became professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua in 1632. ‘Syntagma anatomicum’ was an extremely successful textbook favouring practical knowledge ‘which dissection offers to eyes and hands’ over mere theoretical questions. Vesling guides the reader through a textual cum visual dissection head to foot, proceeding according to the body parts an anatomist would encounter from the moment of the first incision, beginning with skin and body fat. As he proceeds, he examines bones underlying the soft parts which are being dissected and the complexities of the nervous system, the vessels that take blood to the brain (‘circle of Willis’) and the lymphatic system—these being among the earliest and most thorough medical descriptions of these anatomical structures. ~The copperplate illustrations were ‘intended for the commonest needs but are mostly original engravings and represent some organs of the human body more correctly than their predecessors. They were popular at the time of their appearance and were frequently re-engraved’ (Choulant, Anatomic Illustration’, 243).

USTC 4018742; mentioned in Bibl. Osleriana 4166 and Heirs of Hippocrates, 476. Not in BMC C17 It.


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