-- MarkCutkosky - 10 Mar 2009

Scientific American March09

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. He and his collaborators designed the title page of Fabrica as a direct response to the ritualized anatomy lessons of the time. The corpse is now the center of the image, and the young and energetic Vesalius performs the dissection himself rather than guiding a barber. The anatomy book is still in the picture, although marginalized, whereas the crowd is curious and engaged. Writing instruments sit on the table, indicating that the dissection leads to the text rather than following it.

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