Science: Books and Manuscripts

Science: Books and Manuscripts

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 55. Vesalius | De humani corporis fabrica, Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco.

Property from the Collection of Carlos Alberto Cruz

Vesalius | De humani corporis fabrica, Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco

Lot Closed

May 25, 01:55 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from the Collection of Carlos Alberto Cruz

Vesalius, Andreas

De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. Basel: Johannes Oporinus, (August 1555)

folio (382 x 254mm.), woodcut initials, woodcut portrait of Vesalius, woodcut illustrations, final leaf with woodcut device only, modern crushed burgundy morocco by Antolín Palomino Olalla, marbled edges, drop-backed box, lacking woodcut title-page (supplied in facsimile), both folding leaves slightly torn and laid down, occasional light browning

Second edition of Vesalius's anatomical masterpiece, incorporating corrections and additions by the author. The woodblocks were reused from the 1543 first edition, though as Vesalius was not on hand to supervise the printing, there is still a lengthy list of errata. A copy of this edition now in the Thomas Fisher Library in Toronto contains Vesalius's autograph annotations for a projected third edition which was never printed.

Vesalius's groundbreaking work on the anatomy of the human body was first published in 1543, the same year as Copernicus's work on heliocentrism (see lot 11), though Vesalius's work was most notable for its detailed woodcut illustrations which were an integral part of the textual content. Vesalius had studied in Louvain, Paris and finally Padua, where he was appointed to the chair of anatomy in 1537. The study of Galen was becoming central to medical education in sixteenth-century Europe; in particular Galen described dissection as indispensible to the full understanding of the workings of the human body. Vesalius performed numerous dissections in Padua and elsewhere which demonstrated to him the errors in Galen (who had had to rely mostly on animal dissection) which he decided to correct through the Fabrica.

Vesalius's work proved very influential on subsequent medical writers, including Valverde de Amusco (see lot 54).


Eimas 283; VD16 V 911; cf. PMM 71 (first edition); not found in Margoczy, Somos and Joffe's census of copies of the Fabrica (2018)


Bartolomé March, bookplate with Latin motto