The Arts and the Sciences in the Scientific Renaissance

De Hvmani Corpis Fabrica Libri Septem.  National Library of Medicine, NIH

Andrea Vesalius

De Hvmani Corpis Fabrica Libri Septem

National Library of Medicine, NIH

1543

Working in the mid-sixteenth century, Andreas Vesalius was chair of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua and later imperial physician to the Emperor Charles V. 

Like Leonardo, he conducted his own dissections, his anatomical studies improving on the work of the Roman physician Galen. His work aimed to illustrate the idealized human body. 

Vesalius' De Hvmani Corpis Fabrica Libri Septem was illustrated with over 200 woodcuts. Sachiko Kusukawa, Trinity College Cambridge, argues that while woodcuts typically produce a print that is inferior and lacking in detail in comparison to prints produced by engraving and etching, this was not the case for those illustrating De Hvmani Corpis Fabrica.  Those produced for Vesalius' work are considered be of the highest quality.

In characteristic Renaissance fashion, the artist rendered the figures in Classical poses, with Vesalius' anatomical studies set against a backdrop of the Eugenean hills near Venice and Padua.  Any number of artists may have been responsible for the work, including the Flemish artist Jan Steven van Calcar, who trained in the workshop of the Venetian painter Titian.  Dominico Campagnola and Sebastiano Serlio have also been named as possibilities.  Kusukawa, however, has ruled out Titian himself. 

The Arts and the Sciences in the Scientific Renaissance