RUEFF, Jakob


RUEFF, Jakob De Conceptu et generatione hominis: de matrice ab euis partius

Frankfurt, Sigusmund Feyerabend, 1580


4to. ff (vi) 100. Italic letter. t.p with attractive bedroom scene of a successful delivery, 1/2 page arms of the dedicatee on next, more than twenty quarter to full page woodcuts of foetuses, birthing scenes, infants, obstetric equipment, twins, monsters and the female anatomy, by the celebrated illustrator Jost Amman. Uniform light paper browning, four leaves foxed, a good copy in its original limp vellum.

First edition illustrated by Jost Amman of Rueff’s celebrated manual of obstetrics, which “contains the first true anatomical pictures in an obstetrics book,” Garrison & Morton. The text is an improved version of Rösslin’s ‘Der Swangern Frauen’ but its importance to the embryologist lies in Rueff’s illustrations which show contemporary ideas about mamalian embryology (see G & M 463), and which corrected many of Rösslin’s more fantastic images.

“Jacob Rueff, city physician of Zurich was responsible for the instruction and examination of the midwives of the canton. He followed the example of Rösslin and in 1554 completed his popular guide for midwives, which next to Rösslin’s ‘Rosengarten’ became the most important obstetrical work of the Renaissance period, and with Jost Amman’s fine woodcuts it is ranked as one of the most famous illustrated medical books of the sixteenth century. The book is addressed not only to midwives, pregnant women and women in childbed but also physicians and the council of scholars in general… copies [were sent] to all midwives and nurses in the canton and they were obliged to have an appropriate section of it read aloud ‘by a well-read woman’, if possible during any confinement they attended. Most of the illustrations… are considerably improved as they were all redrawn by Amman… His own splendid woodcuts (none of which are signed) added to the 1580 edition of Rueff, gave a good idea of sixteenth century obstetric practice endowed with a “homely charm”, Itagela, “The Birth of Mankynde”, pp18-25. Remarkably, it remained a practical work of medical reference well into the 18th century.

BM STC Ger p.759. Fairfax Murray Ger II 372. Durling 3981. This edn not in Wellcome or Osler.
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