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A monument within which is suspended the flayed skin of a man, with a canal system as an allegory of the circulation of blood, and other allegories of anatomy. Engraving, 1651.

  • Highmore, Nathaniel, 1613-1685.
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About this work


Dedicated to William Harvey (1578-1657), N. Highmore's Corporis humani disquisitio of 1651, was one of the first anatomy books to accept his theory of circulation of blood, an allegory of which is illustrated by the pump supplying a canal system that is visible through the arch of the engraved frontispiece

At the top of the monument, left, a lecture in an anatomy theatre; centre, the lecturer kneels before a queen personifying anatomy, who is crowned and holds a femur as her sceptre in her right hand and a skull in place of an orb in her left hand. Top right, a philological anatomist mulls over a volume of Aristotle's De partibus animalium

In the frontal niches of the level below stand Hippocrates and Galen, each taking the pulse of the flayed skin, on which the title of the book is engraved. The arms of the flayed skin are engraved with aphorisms declaring the value of anatomy for medicine. Hippocrates is dressed as an ancient, while Galen, holding a scroll of his book De usu partium, is dressed in the ermine robes of a university doctor. In the two inside niches are a skeleton on the left and a muscle figure on the right

On the base, on the left is an illustration of a camera obscura with the resulting image of a tree on the facing wall re-inverted, and on the right is a portrait of Nathaniel Highmore. On the sides of the niches are the shield of Trinity College Oxford (left) and a shield including a crossbow (right: the shield of the Highmore family, according to Ekholm, op. cit.)


Hagae comitis [The Hague] : Ex officina Samuelis Broun bibliopolae anglici, 1651.

Physical description

1 print : line engraving ; image 25.5 x 15.6 cm


Corporis humani disquisitio anatomica in qua sanguinis circulationem in quavis corporis parte, plurimis typis novis ac ænigmatum medicorum succincta dilucidatione, ornatam psequtus est Nathanael Highmorus artium et medicinæ doctor nuper e societate S.tae Trinitatis Oxon.

References note

Karin Ekholm, 'Anatomy, bloodletting and emblems: interpreting the title page of Nathaniel Highmore's Disquisitio (1651)', in N. Jardine and I. Fay (edd.), Observing the world through images: diagrams and figures in the early-modern arts and sciences, Leiden: Brill, 2014, pp. 87-123
G. Wolf-Heidegger and A. M. Cetto, Die anatomische Sektion in bildlicher Darstellung, Basel and New York 1967, pp. 242-243, no. 159
A. Garosi, Inter artium et medicinae doctores, Florence 1963, p. 50, pl. cxl

Lettering note

Individual parts of the composition are labelled as follows: Theatrum autopsiæ ; Sacrum anatomiæ ; Contemplationis musæum ; monon theōrein ; Lien est notho epas ; Hippocrates ; Galenus ; Sine hac claudus ; Hac longior vita brevior ars, iudicium facile, experientia tuta etc. ; Oculus opticus ; Revulsio ; Derivatio


Wellcome Library no. 24939i


  • Latin

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