MOLINETTI, Antonio Dissertationes anatomicae et pathologicae

Padua, M. Bolzetta, 1669


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (viii) 116 (ii). Roman letter. Engraved t-p showing doctors debating, skull on the table between them, and dissection scene behind, woodcut vignette to typographical t-p, 1 engraved folding geometrical diagram and 2 full-page illustrations of muscles and ocular cavities, decorated initials and ornaments. Marginal foxing to few ll., two letters inked over on E1, gathering M browned, gutter of P1 repaired. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum, title inked to spine, little loss to lower joint. C19 bookplate of the physician Umberto Calamida to front pastedown, early ms. ‘Domus S. Laurentij T(?)’ at foot of t-p.

Very good copy of this influential work on the anatomy and pathology of the sense organs. Antonio Molinetti (1610/15-75) was appointed professor of anatomy at Padua after the death of Vesling. His skill was so admired that a student, Thomas Baines, wrote to him that, whilst searching for blood vessels, ‘you do not dissect bodies, Molinetti, but adorn them’ (Payne, ‘With Words and Knives’, 16). His studies focused on the organs of sense and on what anatomy can reveal on pathology and treatment. ‘Dissectiones’ deals indeed with the muscles, function, parts and conditions of the eyes, ears, tongue and nose, the four senses thereof, the nerves, the brain (‘the first sense organ’), and, more generally, the ‘internal workings of the senses’ (including the difference between wake and sleep). Molinetti applied his anatomical knowledge of the eye—here represented in detail as an engraved diagram—to the construction of the most detailed model of the ocular cavity to date, an instrument made by the Venetian Giovanni Battista Verle. In this work, Molinetti also argued, before Willis, that ‘the four ventricles [of the brain] had been created so that they could substitute for one another’, and he ‘considered all parts of the brain to be completely equivalent [functionally]’ (Neuburger, ‘The Historical Development’, 31). The handsome t-p was engraved by Giacomo Ruffoni (d. after 1699), an artist active in the Veneto whose medical illustrations for Molinetti reveal ‘a peculiar and nonchalant skill managed with solid competence’ (Trevisan, ‘Il volto inciso’, 97). An important work in the history of the anatomy and pathology of the sense organs, and of neurology.

Hirsch/H.14 234; Krivatsy 8024. Not in Choulant.
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