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Vesalius - Introduction

Image of the Veralius cover
British Library Add. MS 59874
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De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) is one of the most influential works in the history of Western medicine. It was conceived and written by 28-year-old c (1514-1564), a professor at the University of Padua. Vesalius was both a gifted dissector and a learned scholar whose great contribution was to apply to anatomy the critical methods developed by the Renaissance humanist scholars. Vesalius subjected the ancient authorities on anatomy to a rigorous test: a comparison with his own observations of the dissected human body. He collected and presented his findings in De Fabrica. In so doing he created the modern science of anatomy.The book was published in 1543, with more than 600 pages of text and beautifully detailed engravings by artists from the workshop of Titian.

This project is the result of collaboration between the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, USA, and the British Library, both of whom hold a copy of this rare and important work. The copy seen here has passed through many hands. Phillip Melanchthon (1497-1560), its first owner, was an influential Swiss Protestant theologian and colleague of Martin Luther.


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