Anatomical dissection by Andreas Vesalius of a female cadaver, attended by a large crowd of onlookers. Woodcut, 1555.

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A print taken from the original woodblock, before lettering, of the title page for the 1555 edition of the De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. Among the differences between the recut title page of the 1555 edition and that of the 1543 edition (see this catalogue, no. 24285) is that the title in the cartouche above the skeleton, which now holds a scythe, identifies the author, Andreas Vesalius as the physician to Emperor Charles V. The portrait of Vesalius, who is seen next to the female cadaver, has been adapted to follow the frontispiece portrait of the anatomist, including the details of the mole above his right eye and his brocade cloak. Other changes are the clothing of the man gripping the column on the left of the title page, who in the 1543 edition was nude, the introduction of a goat next to the dog at the lower right for the purposes of comparative anatomy, and the use of a vivisection table to carry the privilege at the bottom of the page (see this catalogue, no. 24377). In addition to the new title page and some alterations to the text, a new type face was employed, new and larger decorated initial letters were cut and the lettering of the figures was made more distinguishable by the removal of the surrounding shading. The original woodblocks were rediscovered in the Munich University library in the late nineteenth century and were used to produce the Icones anatomicae, published by the New York Academy of Medicine in 1934-1935. Not long afterwards these woodblocks, which had survived so many centuries, were destroyed in the second world war


[Basel] : [Oporinus], [1555]

Physical description

1 print : woodcut ; image 35.2 x 24.3 cm

References note

H. Cushing, A bio-bibliography of Andreas Vesalius, 2nd ed., Hamden, Conn. and London 1962, pp. 90-92, no. VI.A.-3; pp. 106-9, no. VI.A.-6, figs 62; 64
J. B. de C. M. Saunders and C. D. O'Malley, The illustrations from the works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, Cleveland and New York 1950, pp. 44-45, pl. 3


Wellcome Collection 24561i


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