REMBRANDT’S DOCTOR TULP
Observationum medicarum libri tres.Amsterdam, Elzevir, 1641.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. , 279, , lacking *8 (blank), interleaved throughout with 145 blanks. Elzevir device to title, 15 full-page or smaller text anatomical illustrations, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight browning, very light water stain to upper margin of second half. A very good copy in contemporary vellum over boards, yapp edges, early ms title to spine, a.e.r., early ms note (price?) and C19 stamp S. de Jager to fly, latter repeated on t-p.
A very good, unsophisticated copy of the first edition of this important, exquisitely illustrated medical manual, mostly devoted to exceptional cases, by the Dutch surgeon Nicolaas Tulp (1593-1674), famously the subject of Rembrandt’s painting ‘Doctor Nicolaas Tulp Demonstrating the Anatomy of the Arm’ (1632). ‘Along with other distinguished anatomists in Holland, Tulp, a professor of anatomy at Amsterdam, left a rich legacy of anatomical discoveries. His name is current in the eponym “Tulp’s valve” (the ileocecal valve) […]. The present work [is] Tulp’s only book […]. […] Several interesting plates complement the book, including a well-known one showing a most comically bemused chimpanzee, erroneously labelled an “orang-outang”’ (Heirs of Hippocrates). In the preface, Tulp compares the innovative descriptions he provides to what America and Magellan’s Strait are for geographers. Book I focuses on the bones, including skull fractures, neurological conditions such as epilepsy, convulsions and St. Vitus’ dance (now Sydenham’s chorea), eye conditions (e.g., blindness, wounds), conditions of the mouth and throat, including cancer, and breast tumours. Book II focuses on the chest and abdomen, from pleurisy to blood spitting, palpitations, vomiting, sweating blood, diabetes and kidney stones. Book III tackles a variety of conditions, from hernia to abdominal convulsions, spina bifida, fungi, gangrene, fevers, and the birth of a two-headed baby. The last chapter talks about the ‘Satyrus Indicus’ or ‘Homo sylvestris’ (also illustrated) – a quadruped primate ‘but of the human species’, misidentified as an orangutan. Apparently captured in the Borneo, it fascinated Tulp for his quasi-human aspect and behaviour, including his prehensile thumbs. A most interesting work.USTC 1013691; Krivatsy 12007; Heirs of Hippocrates 464 (later ed.); Wellcome II, 306 (imp.); Osler 4126 (later ed.); Willems 980.