Vesalius Anatomical Illustrations
(Northwestern University)

Overview

Designer unknown Venetian, attributed to workshop of Titian; Prima noni capitis figura: First figure of the ninth chapterAndreas Vesalius (1514-1564) was an anatomist, physician, and the author of a pioneering treatise on human anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). First published in 1543, and substantially revised in 1555, the Fabrica is a superbly illustrated atlas of the human body, informed by Vesalius' experience with autopsies and dissection. This approach marked a shift in medical education away from a reliance on Ancient authorities like Galen, towards the direct observation of the human body. While the artist who produced the Fabrica's woodcuts is unknown, they are masterpieces of Renaissance printmaking. Further, these illustrations became the basis of medical art and illustration for generations to come, and transformed attitudes and perceptions of the human body throughout the Western world. As such, they were, arguably, more influential than the anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, which remained unpublished for centuries, while the Fabrica was widely distributed throughout Europe.

Over 200 images, depicting individual bones and organs, entire systems, and the famous muscle men posing dramatically against Renaissance landscapes, are now available in ARTstor.


Two scholars at Northwestern University Daniel Garrison, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Malcolm Hast, Professor Emeritus of Otolaryngology worked on the first English translation of the Fabrica. With assistance from Northwestern University library and academic technology staff, the first book of their annotated translation was published online in 2003: http://vesalius.northwestern.edu. On November 4, 2013, the Galter Health Sciences Library sponsored a celebratory reception featuring the release of the two-volume print set of the completed translation, a project that was 20 years in duration. As part of the project, digital scans of the diagrams and anatomical illustrations were produced from a facsimile of the 1543 edition. [Sadly, the original wood blocks were destroyed during the Allied bombing of Munich in 1943.] Over 200 images, depicting individual bones and organs, entire systems, and the famous “muscle men” posing dramatically against Renaissance landscapes, are now available in ARTstor. These images are accompanied by scholarly information, including modern anatomical names for all parts mentioned in the original Latin text, also contributed by Garrison and Hast.

Go to the top of the page

Collection information

Total size of collection* 253
Percentage of completion 100%
Search terms vesalius garrison
Collection URL http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/northwestern_vesalius

* Image totals should be regarded as an approximation until a given collection is 100% complete. Users should also bear in mind that the number of images available to them may vary from country to country, reflecting ARTstor’s approach to addressing an international copyright landscape that itself varies from country to country.

Last updated: November 15, 2013

Image Credits

Designer unknown Venetian, attributed to workshop of Titian; Prima noni capitis figura: First figure of the ninth chapter

Visit the ARTstor Blog Like ARTstor on Facebook Follow ARTstor on Twitter Watch ARTstor videos on YouTube