Dream Anatomy header Learning Station Exhibit Information Gallery Visionary and Visible Introduction Historical Anatomies Site Map Anatomical Dreamtime Getting Real National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Division Dream Anatomy
Dream Anatomy Home > Anatomical Dreamtime > Anatomical Arts and Sciences

Anatomical Arts and Sciences

In 1543 Andreas Vesalius produced De Humani Corporis Fabrica, the first profusely illustrated anatomy book. A brilliant dissector, the 28-year-old Vesalius insisted that reliable knowledge derives from examination of cadavers, not ancient texts. He subjected the old anatomical treatises to a rigorous test: a comparison with direct observations of the dissected body. De Fabrica became the founding text of modern anatomy, and inspired a host of successors. Like Vesalius, they compared their results with existing texts, corrected errors, and produced new texts with illustrations. The production of images based on dissection became a central component of scientific anatomy.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica... by Vesalius Romanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis... by Bartolomeo Eustachi and Giulio de’MusiDe Humani Corporis Fabrica by Vesalius


Anatomical Primitives
Cadavers at Play
Anatomical Arts and Sciences

Next Topic: Body Part as Body Art
Show-off Cadavers

Next Section : Getting Real


U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894
National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services
Copyright, Privacy, Accessibility
Last updated: 9 March 2004



Andreas Vesalius and the art of scientific anatomy

De Humani Corporis Fabrica... by Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius collected and presented his findings in De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543), a book of more than 600 pages, with beautifully detailed woodcuts by artists from the workshop of Titian. The illustrations set a new standard for accuracy, while drawing on a variety of contemporary genres of visual representation: naturalism, classicism, metaphor, landscape, death imagery and monstrosity.

Vesalius’s progeny

De Fabrica inspired other anatomists to attempt their own books.

Juan Valverde de Amusco studied with Realdo Columbo, Vesalius’s pupil and successor. His Historia de la composición del cuerpo humano (1556) was the first anatomy published in Spanish. Valverde used Vesalius’s work as a departure for his own anatomical visions, which humorously played on identifications of self and other, and matter and spirit.

Anatomia del corpo humano by Juan Valverde de AmuscoRomanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis by Bartolomeo Eustachi and Giulio de’Musi

Bartolomeo Eustachi (also known as Eustachius) was court physician to the Duke of Urbino and Cardinal Giulio della Rovere. In 1552 he prepared a series of playful anatomical plates that featured figures placed inside a box with graduated measurements to help readers identify the location and scale of the parts. Most of the plates were discovered and published after his death in 1714.

Romanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis by Bartolomeo Eustachi and Giulio de’MusiRomanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis by Bartolomeo Eustachi and Giulio de’Musi