EUSTACHI, Bartolomeo.


EUSTACHI, Bartolomeo. Opuscula Anatomica.

Venice, Vincenzo Luchino, 1563-64


FIRST EDITION. 4to, ‘De dentibus’ with separate t-p dated 1563, pp. (lii) 331 (i); (viii) 95 (i); + 82 unnumbered leaves containing ‘Annotationes’. Roman and italic letter, woodcut historiated and floriated initials, printer’s device to t-ps and verso of last of ‘De dentibus’, eight full-page engraved anatomical plates depicting internal organs. First t-p a bit dusty, rare marginal spots or marks, tear from one outer blank margin, another repaired without loss. A very good, well-margined copy, crisp and clean, in C17 half-calf, marbled boards, spine with raised bands, title and decoration gilt in compartments, small crack at joint. Ex libris of Ranuccio Luigi Scarpacci (d. 1808) on verso of fly.

A very good copy of the beautifully illustrated first edition of Eustachi’s collected works, uncommonly with the eight finely engraved detailed plates.

The Italian physician Bartolomeo Eustachi (c. 1500-1574) is regarded as one of the founders of human anatomy as a science. After completing his medical studies, he became physician to the Duke of Urbino and later to Cardinal Giulio della Rovere, whom he followed to Rome. Here, he was appointed professor of anatomy at the Sapienza University. Eustachi is credited with many discoveries and all his works are based on his own experiments: he performed animal dissections for pathological research and introduced post mortem examinations in Roman hospitals. The first to describe the Eustachian tube (named after him) and the adrenal glands, he also recognised the thoracic duct in horses, and studied the structures of the teeth in detail for the first time.

‘Opuscula anatomica’ is the first compilation of Eustachi’s works, including his treatises on the kidneys, ear, bones, ‘the head’s movement’, the venous system, and teeth. “Eustachi was among the first to study the teeth in any detail, and his treatise contains an early description of the first and second dentitions as well as the tooth’s basic composition of enamel and dentin. He also attempted to explain why the tooth was sensitive to various stimuli. His treatise on the kidney shows that he possessed knowledge of the organ that surpassed that of his predecessors, and it also contains the first account of the adrenal gland. His work on the ear includes descriptions of the tube that bears his name as well as the tensor tympani and stapedius muscles. In his treatise dealing with the venous system, he described the thoracic duct and the Eustachian valve – the valvula venae cavae inferioris in the right ventricle of the heart.” (Heirs of Hippocrates). A final section contains a series of annotations to Eustachi’s works by his relative and disciple Pier Matteo Pini.

The volume contains eight attractive engraved anatomical plates, mostly depicting the kidneys and their structures, but also presenting the veins and arteries of the arms and the right ventricle of the heart. Probably drawn by Eustachi and Pini, they were engraved by the Roman artist Giulio de Musi. The illustrations are “dry and hard and show little artistic treatment. (…) they are exact and instructive. (…) Instead of printing letters on the figures, which he everywhere avoids, Eustachius introduced graduated margins (similar to the margins of maps) which made possible the finding of any parts and their names by means of a ruler” (Choulant).

Most copies of this book, including the present one, bear the imprint “Venetiis: MDLXIIII, Vincentius Luchinus excudebat”; however, it is evident from the setting of the type that the final “I” of the Roman numeral and the name of the printer were added at a later time as they are out of register. The original printing date was in fact 1563 (as proved by the t-p of ‘de dentibus’, which bears the original imprint), and a few copies were in fact issued with this date and no printer’s name. Scholars believe that Luchino decided to include his name and correct the title pages after the printing occurred. He did so in 1564, running the initial sheets back into the press, or perhaps using some kind of stamp.

This volume belonged to the Italian erudite book collector Ranuccio Luigi Scarpacci (d. 1808), owner of a prominent library sold after his death.

USTC 828515; Adams E1103; BM STC It., p. 260; Durling 1408; Wellcome I 2091; Heirs of Hippocrates 199, Garrison-Morton 801; Heirs of Hippocrates 199. Not in Brunet or Graesse. L. Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1852).
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