Icones ossium foetus humani. Accedit osteogeniæ brevis historia.

Leiden: Verbeek, 1737.

First edition of this classic work on osteology with 32 plates by the master engraver Jan Wandelaar . “Albinus is particularly remembered for his descriptions of the bones, and this first edition of his treatise on fetal bones is one of his finest atlases. All of the fetal bones are illustrated with great detail and are finely lined in the sixteen plates and sixteen line drawings, but in no place is the total skeleton depicted. At the end of his preface, Albinus promises to see to it that only good prints are published and that the plates are not given away to anybody, to prevent the making of inferior prints for the sake of pecuniary gain.” (Heirs of Hippocrates).

“These plates are also engraved by Wandelaer [as in the celebrated Tabulae sceleti (1747)]. The illustrations were engraved upon the plates directly from the preparations. The first bears the signature: ‘Wandelaar omnes ad exemplaria in aes incidit’. The other plates are not signed. There are altogether sixteen finished plates, containing a total of one hundred and sixty-three representations. Each one of these plates is supplemented by an identical outline-plate containing the same figures with letters engraved upon them. The different bones are reproduced with an unsurpassed fidelity and delicacy” (Choulant).

Albinus, the celebrated professor of anatomy and surgery in Leiden, was no doubt the best descriptive anatomist of his day and the pioneer of a new epoch in human anatomy. Besides his own writings he edited the works of Eustachio, Fabricius and Harvey. In collaboration with Herman Boerhaave he edited a new edition of Vesalius’ works (1725), in which the two-hundred-year-old woodcuts are beautifully copied on copperplates by the master engraver Jan Wandelaar. Albinus had found his ideal artist and engaged him for his great enterprise. In 1732 Wandelaar left Amsterdam for good and went to live in Albinus’ house in Leiden. Albinus describes how Wandelaar worked for him: ‘I was constantly with him, to direct him how every thing was to be done, assisting him in the drawing and correcting what was drawn. And thus he was instructed, directed, and as entirely ruled by me, as if he was a tool in my hands… ’ (transl. from the preface). “Albinus’ work in anatomy was of a precision and care rarely matched in the history of anatomical illustration. Some time shortly before 1725, when he was in his twenties, Albinus developed an ambitious plan to publish large-scale engraved plates of human anatomy that would surpass in excellence all previous anatomical illustrations. The work was not only to better the original illustrations of Vesalius and Eustachio but also those in the perfected editions of these authors that Albinus himself edited. No major anatomist has applied himself so fully to anatomical illustrations over so long a period as did Albinus.” (Roberts and Tomlinson). Albinus was not married until his 69th year. After his death in 1770 his widow auctioned off his collection of specimens, which was bought for 6300 guilders by the University of Leiden, where many specimens are still preserved in their anatomical department. Anatomical studies in 1979 revealed that Albinus’ height was 167 cm, the same height that he had used in his anatomical studies as an ideal dimension for his ‘homo perfectus’.

4to (244 x 198 mm), pp [4], 162, [2] and 32 engraved plates, title printed in red and black with engraved vignette, plates with light toning. Bound with Index supellectilis anatomicae (1725). Contemporary, unrestored Dutch vellum with manuscript lettering to spine. A very good copy.

Item #3794

Price: $3,200.00

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