28 Aug Rare Books Online Exhibition – Down to the Bones
De Humani Corporis Fabrica of Andrea Vesalius (1514-1564) was an exquisite piece of creativity that blended observation; organization of information, format, typography; and illustration into an integrated whole to accurately describe the human body. The intense collaboration between scientist, artist, and printer was unprecedented. Prior to the publication of this book, medical texts were mostly derived from the medieval Arabic medical tradition or from translations of the works of Classical authors, whose texts had been corrupted by translation and re-translation: from Greek into Syriac, Syriac into Arabic, Arabic into Latin. Renaissance Europe embraced the classical works of Hippocrates and the Greco-Roman Galen. Vesalius, however, chose to further his knowledge of human anatomy by studying human cadavers. From these studies, Vesalius formed his position that the validity of any hypothesis rested solely upon facts established by observational methodology. His work marked the beginnings of modern science.
“Begin your anatomy with a man fully grown; then show him elderly and less muscular; then go on to strip him stage by stage right down to the bones.”
— Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
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