Anatomy Lessons through the Ages

Medical books from centuries past give a glimpse into the science of yore, thanks to the National Library of Medicine
1 of 10

1774: The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus Exhibited in Figures, by William Hunter

Obstetrics was revolutionized between the 18th and 19th centuries when it moved from the work of female midwives to that of male physicians. This was due in part to the work of two Scottish surgeons, William Smellie and William Hunter, who published detailed anatomical treatises on fetal development and birth.....[ More ]

1742: Suite de l'Essai d'anatomie en tableaux imprimes, by Jacques Fabian Gautier d'Agoty

Among the printing innovations of the 17th century was the color mezzotint, a form of copperplate engraving. Careful abrasion and polishing of the metal plate allowed fine control over tone; color was achieved by successive strikes of red, green and blue ink.....[ More ]

1556: Anatomia del corpo humano, by Juan Valverde de Amusco

Juan Valverde de Amusco, a member of Eustachi's anti-Vesalian milieu, published Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano in 1556. Plagiarism was rife during the first centuries of printing, and most of the illustrations were copies of Andreas Vesalius's work.....[ More ]

1564: Tabulae anatomicae, by Bartolomeo Eustachi

Reactions to Andreas Vesalius's theories were heated. In Italy, an anti-Vesalian group, led by Bartolomeo Eustachi, criticized any deviation from Galenic theories and argued that the direct observation of cadavers could provide support for the classical model of anatomy.....[ More ]

1545: De dissectione partium corporis humani libri tres, by Charles Estienne

Charles Estienne was a physician who, like Andreas Vesalius, believed in independent observation. Estienne began work on De dissectione in the 1530s, hoping that it would become the preferred text for anatomy education.....[ More ]

1543: De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, by Andreas Vesalius

Vesalius's anatomical illustrations were remarkably accurate and artistically accomplished. They were probably based on his own careful drawings, with woodcuts produced by a member of the studio of famed Renaissance painter Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)—possibility with the participation of Titian himself.....[ More ]

1543: De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, by Andreas Vesalius

One of the most famous medical texts, Andreas Vesalius' 1543 volume On the Fabric of the Human Body , was the first truly modern anatomical book. Vesalius was a surgeon at the University of Padua whose texts corrected Galen's errors and advocated for direct observation of cadavers by physicians.....[ More ]

1528: Vier Bucher von menschlicher Proportion, by Albrecht Durer

An important figure in the Northern Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer was born in 1471 to a family of goldsmiths and printers. He was educated in the arts and traveled to Italy as a young man, where he absorbed the ideals and aesthetics of the humanist movement.....[ More ]

1522-23: Isagogae breues, by Jacopo Berengario da Carpi

The Isagogae breues, perlucidae ac uberrimae in anatomiam humani corporis published in 1522 or 1523 by the humanist physician Jacopo Berengario da Carpi, is credited as the first printed anatomy text actually based on direct observation of the body.....[ More ]

1490s: Fasiculo de medicina, attributed to Johannes de Ketham

Printing was developed in the 1450s, but it would be decades before its potential for scientific communication was fully grasped. Meanwhile, early printers copied well-known medieval manuscripts such as the Fascuilo de medicina , issued in Venice in the 1490s.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
Share this Article:

Starting Thanksgiving

Enter code: HOLIDAY 2015
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >


Email this Article