Anatomici summi septemdecim tabulae quas nunc primum edit atque explicat iisque alias addit de structura mammarum et de tunica testis vaginali.

Parma: [Giambattista Bodoni for] Regia typographia, 1775.

First edition, rare in such fine condition. “The book is one of the finest anatomies of the eighteenth century because of its excellent illustrations and comprehensive commentary” (Heirs of Hippocrates). It is also one of the few medical books published by a private press. Santorini’s 17 plates [Septemdecim tabulæ] were originally intended for an enlarged edition of his Observationes anatomicæ (1724), but Santorini died before completing this task. They were not published until 38 years later by Michel Girard. This is one of the most splendid anatomical atlases of the eighteenth century because of its excellent illustrations. It is also noteworthy as the only significant medical book from the press of the celebrated Italian printer Bodoni, printer to the Duke of Parma and creator of the modern style typeface bearing his name. The rare book is unrecorded by Bodoni’s bibliographers De Lama and Brooks. All the 21 plates are done with a light crayon effect which, however, does not impair the anatomic clarity of the prints, but even brings out well the differences in the tissues. Besides Santorini’s 17 plates, two belong to the anatomist Giovanni Battista Covoli, who was drowned in 1768, in his youth. The other two plates belong to the editor, Michel Girard (1737-97), professor of anatomy in Parma, who wrote the extensive commentary using portions of Santorini’s and Covoli’s posthumous writings. The unsigned plates were drawn by Giovanni Battista Piazetta (1682-1754). A woman, Florentina Marcella, engraved the plates under Santorini’s personal supervision. Santorini’s plates illustrate the facial muscles, organs of smell and hearing, the pharynx, the breasts, the diaphragm, the intestines, the bladders and the genitals, Covoli’s plates represent the breasts, the tunics of the testicle and a six-months fetus. Santorini’s name has been given to the arytenoid cartilages, the risorius muscle and the plexus pudendalis venosus” (Hagerströmer Library). “Giovanni Domenico Santorini is revered as a meticulous dissector and an important contributor to our knowledge of anatomy. His work was extensive, spanning the gamut of human anatomy. He has been credited with the discovery of many structures and is venerated with several anatomical eponyms. It is important to note that these discoveries (which include the accessory pancreatic duct) may have likely gone unrecognized were it not for Giambettista Morgagni and Michael Girardi, who were responsible for the posthumous publication of Santorini’s observations and illustrations. Santorini’s legacy lives on through the many anatomical observations and structural illustrations, which continue to fascinate anatomists and clinicians alike” (Kleinerman et al.).

Giovani Domenico Santorini was born in Venice in 1681. His father was a chemist, and as such, Santorini worked as an apprentice in apothecary before deciding to pursue medical training. Following his graduation from Pisa University in 1701, Santorini was appointed Public Professor of Anatomy at the Physico-Medical College of Venice at the age of 22. He published Observationes anatomicae in 1724, which catalogued the various anatomical aspects of the human body that Santorini observed while dissecting. His lectures were consistently well received and lauded until his death in 1737. Much of Santorini’s bio-graphical data has been preserved by his pupil Michael Girardi, who in 1775, compiled and published all unreleased collections of Santorini’s anatomical observations and related illustrations. In this compilation, entitled Anatomici Summi Septendecim Tabulae, the description and anatomical illustration of the accessory pancreatic duct were included. To his credit, Santorini’s illustration included a reference scale that allowed the estimation of the true anatomical size of the structure. Santorini’s descriptions also extend to the field of neuroanatomy and include structures in the pelvis and head and neck, many of which continue to bear his name.

“Giovanni Santorini’s investigations and discoveries in anatomy were extensive and his work has been commemorated with more than ten anatomical eponyms. In 1724, Santorini used copper plates to illustrate the plexus venosus vesicoprostaticus, which is now known as Santorini’s plexus. He identified the plexus beneath the endopelvic fascia and the ligamentum prostaticum. Unfortunately, Santorini’s description of this plexus was not published until thirty-eight years after his death [as the present work].

“Knowledge of Santorini’s plexus remains relevant today as urologists seek to minimize bleeding and prevent hemodynamic instability during prostatectomies and other procedures.

“Giovanni Santorini’s additional contributions to pelvic anatomy included an early description of the pubo-coccygeus muscle and the discovery of a small aperture in the cervical glands. Finally, Santorini’s dis-sections were integral in developing a more complete understanding of uterine musculature.

“Giovanni Santorini is most renowned for his discovery of the accessory pancreatic duct. As a physician and anatomist at the Physico-Medical College of Venice, Santorini was able to conduct several hundred dissections of the pancreas, examining intricate details with a magnifying glass. During these dissections, Santorini acknowledged the arrangement of a second pancreatic duct, naming it the superior pancreatic duct for its anatomical location in relation to the main pancreatic duct. Concerning this superior duct, Santorini wrote:

‘The second pancreatic duct, which has a transverse direction and has its small origin from the longitudinal duct, turns abruptly upwards, receiving in its course many small branches, and curving slightly runs into the duodenum, about two fingers above the orifice of the longitudinal duct.’

“The Italian engraver Florentia Marcella and painter Giovanni Battista Piazzetta aided Santorini in creating drawings of this anatomical discovery. These were to be published in a second volume of Observationes anatomicae, however, Santorini passed away from an infection contracted during dissection of a cadaver on May 9, 1737 before the work could be completed … The eponymous (Santorini’s) duct has been effectively integrated into the clinical jargon. This attests to Santorini’s enduring influence upon the medical literature and community. Our current understanding of pancreatic anatomy, including the clinical implications of the accessory duct, is in large part due to Santorini’s methodical dissections …”

Though Santorini’s name is most commonly associated with the prostatic venous plexus and the accessory pancreatic duct, he also described several other important structures. These include the parietal emissary veins. Santorini is also credited with identifying the geniculate bodies of the thalamus involved in the visual pathways. He described the geniculate bodies as the anatomical location where the optic tract ended. His identification of the cranial veins and geniculate bodies mark monumental discoveries in neuroanatomy.

“Santorini also described the corniculate cartilage of the larynx, clinically referred to as Santorini’s cartilage. He discovered the musculus helicis major and minor of the ear, and was eponymously acknowledged for discovering fissures in the external auditory meatus (the fissures of Santorini, which are two vertical slits in the anterior part of the cartilage of the external acoustic meatus). Additional structures which bear his name include the risorius muscle (Santorini’s muscle) and the superior nasal concha (Santorini’s concha). Furthermore, Santorini’s contributions to facial anatomy extend beyond the muscle and bone that carry his name. His exceptional dissections significantly enrich our current knowledge of facial musculature and the ethmoidal sinuses, and are clinically relevant to otolaryngologists and plastic surgeons” (Kleinerman et al.).


Norman 1888; Garrison-Morton 399.1; Heirs of Hippocrates 788; Pincus 248. Kleinerman et al., ‘Giovanni Domenico Santorini (1681–1737): A Prominent Physician and Meticulous Anatomist,’ Clinical Anatomy 27 (2014), pp. 545–547.



Folio (325 x 235 mm), pp. [10], i-xxxv [1], 1-217 [3], with 42 engraved plates. Contemporary half-vellum and marbled boards. A very fine and fresh copy, entirely unrestored.

Item #3623

Price: $7,500.00

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