De respirationes & eius Instrumentis. Padua: Antonio Meglietti, n.d. [colophon: Lorenzo Pasquati, 1615]; De gula, ventriculo, intestinis tractatus. Padua: Lorenzo Pasquati, 1618; De motu locali animalium secundum totum. [& De alarum actione]. Padua: Giambattista de Martinis, 1618; [De musculi artificio, & ossium. De articulationibus. Vicenza: Pietro Bertellio, 1614].



First editions, all very rare, of four early works on animal motion and physiology by the outstanding Renaissance anatomist and surgeon and founder of embryology. They were issued separately from 1614 to 1618; after Fabrici’s death in 1619, the treatises were reissued together by Meglietti with a general title page dated 1625. The present volume appears to be a collection of the original works, issued before the addition of a general title. The outstanding Renaissance anatomist and surgeon Fabrici (c. 1533-1619) studied at Padua with Gabriele Falloppio, whom he succeeded as teacher of anatomy upon the latter’s death in 1562. William Harvey was a student of Fabrici and his De motu cordis (1628) was strongly influenced by Fabrici’s most famous work, De venarum ostiolis. Harvey refers to Fabricius’ work on the organs of respiration (De respiratione) in the Prooemium: “it is affirmed, as by Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente, in his book on “Respiration,” which has lately appeared, that as the pulsation of the heart and arteries does not suffice for the ventilation and refrigeration of the blood, therefore were the lungs fashioned to surround the heart. From this it appears that whatever has hitherto been said upon the systole and diastole, or on the motion of the heart and arteries, has been said with especial reference to the lungs.” Another of the works in this volume, De motu locali animalium, strongly influenced Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (see below). “As an anatomist [Fabricius] was less interested in Vesalian structural architecture than a comparative approach which stressed three aspects of anatomy: the description, action, and use of body parts. Although Vesalius had surpassed the ancients in descriptive accuracy, he had written little on the action and use of the parts; this is what Fabricius aimed to remedy” (Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, p. 183). ABPC/RBH list only one separate copy of De motu, De gula and De musculi (the former in a modern binding, the latter two together in a contemporary binding), and one copy of the collected edition with general title (lacking the separate titles to De respiratione and De musculi). OCLC lists only a handful of copies of the individual works in the US, and only two of the collected edition.

Provenance: From the library of Jean Blondelet, perhaps the greatest collector of medical books of the 20th century.

Fabricius “did not publish a universal anatomy like Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543) or Laurentius’ Historia Anatomica Humani Corporis (1600). Rather, he published smaller works focused on particular physiological systems; each work focused on groups of parts at the service of some particular animal function. An examination of Fabricius’ publications makes this clear. For example, Fabricius published works like De locutione & ejus instrumentis and De respiration & ejus instrumentis, which explicitly pick out the parts to be studied as those that are the instruments of certain activities … “Similarly, Fabricius published De gula; De ventriculo; De omento; De variatate ventriculorum; De intestinis; and De mesenterio together in one volume. The opening lines of this text exhibit Fabricius’ systems-based approach: ‘We now treat the stomach, and we will join with it those things which are connected and go with it – that is, the intestines and the esophagus – and, for the same reason, the mesenterium, the bowels, and the muscles of the anus and of the abdomen, as much as these all are parts that, as a kind of chain, at the same time are conjoined and are aided by one another’s roles.’

“Besides exemplifying his systems-based approach, Fabricius’ work on muscles [De musculi artificio, & ossium] exhibits the ubiquitous tripartite structure characteristic of his works, devoting a section each to the historia of muscle, the treatment of its action, and the discussion of its utilitates … Fabricius begins by identifying the tripartite structure of his discussion of muscles: ‘First then we will take our beginning from the fabric, historia, dissection, structure or composition of the muscle, … make clear its action and disclose every usus.’ In the section on the historia of the muscles, he discusses the subparts of the muscles, like flesh, membranes, arteries, veins, nerves, and tendons, as well as the constitution of muscle especially out of flesh and nervaceum corpus. He also discusses variation in these parts as they constitute different muscles. He finally turns to features belonging to muscles as whole instruments: ‘Because the fabric of the muscle is constructed from similar parts, the muscle is considered an organ which requires a certain magnitude, shape, position, number, connection, insertion, and other differentia of an organ and dissimilar body, the treatment of which is presently laid out.’ Here Fabricius discusses important variations exhibited by muscles in shape, dimensions, number, and in the placement of the origin and end of the muscles, as well as of the tendons. This leads eventually to a discussion of the presence or absence of muscles (or something analogous) and their major variations in all animals, divided into four categories or grades … “[Fabricius next] identifies and discusses the action of the muscle … Fabricius identifies the action of muscle as contraction or tension, and he identifies what he calls the ‘nervaceum corpus’ (i.e., the fibers, not the flesh) as the principal part responsible for this action. He also discusses how this contraction contributes to the life of the animal. Here he stresses the wide variety of activities to which muscle contributes by its contraction, including fir example progression, eating, looking, and holding and expelling waste. Ultimately, suggests Fabricius, all of these activities are, in one way or another, at the service of pursuing what is beneficial and avoiding what is harmful. “This variety of ways in which individual muscles contribute to the life of the animal by their contractions grounds the teleological explanations of the variety found in muscles in the final section, De musculi utilitatibus. Here Fabricius discusses the subparts and features of the muscle, following the same general order of exposition he used in the section on the historia of the muscle. He begins with the way the various subparts of muscles (i.e., veins, arteries, flesh, nerves, and tendons) render them fitted to its identified action – that is, he traces the utilitates of the components of muscles. He then turns to consider the utilitates of muscles as wholes: ‘Having explained the utilitates of the parts of muscle, it remains to explain the utilitates of those features that belong to the whole muscle. Now position, magnitude, connection, figure, number, and insertion do so belong; from all of these as from proper sources utilitates are acquired.’

“It is here that Fabricius introduces mechanical principles …” (Nachtomy & Smith, The Life Sciences in Early Modern Philosophy, pp. 70-75).

These mechanical principles played a particularly important role in Fabricius’ last work on animate motion, De motu locali animalium. “This work should be compared to its similarly titled inspiration, the two brief Aristotelian treatises on the same subject. The latter are exciting patchwork, remarkable for discovering the problems rather than for solving anything. Coming from them to Fabricius’ work is like emerging from a teeming, disorderly, and exciting town into a neat meadow, a more coherent panorama of observations. Because species of the same class often exhibit different modes of motion or combinations of them, he organized his material according to the type of motion: creeping, flying, swimming, walking in bipeds, and finally, walking in quadrupeds and multipeds. These modes of locomotion are correlated with the nature of a particular ground, whether the habitat is level or hilly, wet, sandy or grassy. Moreover the variability of a particular terrain or habitat finds itself mirrored in the variability of the locomotions of the particular animals living there. Not having the advantage of Galileo’s Della Scienza Mecanica which did not appear until 1634, Fabricius’ mechanics of these motions only began what Borelli was to complete at the end of the century. But the work also contains much that is new: the first real description of the peristaltic movement, an attempt to derive all locomotions from two archetypes, walking with diagonal limbs in unison and leaping with opposite limbs in unison – an idea begun in the Aristotelian works., and a fascinating section relating wing structure in birds and insects to their flight behaviour. And instead of the Aristotelian principle that nature does what is best, Fabricius states that nature perpetuates what is best. This change of verb is a giant step between ancient and modern biology” (Jaynes, p. 221).

“As a scientist, Fabrici was an indefatigable and scrupulous observer, describing his results with exactitude. His interpretation of observed phenomena was often shaped by tradition, however, and he may not be considered a comparative anatomist in the modern sense because he made no studies of homologous structures and did not attempt to analyze relationships and affinities of the organs that he studied. His primary purpose in his studies of fetal anatomy, for example, was to prepare a tool for the interpretation of the purpose and end of the organs under consideration; he was more concerned with finding philosophically based principles than with morphological detail and tended to modify observations that did not verify such principles. Thus he often failed to pursue his own discoveries to their logical conclusions. His interpretation of nature was, then, a teleological one, and his methods of observation derived largely from Galen. Fabrici published his results in several volumes, including De visione, voce, auditu (Venice, 1600); De locutione et ejus instrumentis liber (Venice, 1601); De brutorum loquela (1603); De musculi artificio, ossium de articulalionibus (1614); De respiratione et eius Instrumentis, libri duo ... (1615); De gula, ventriculo, intestinis tractatus (1618); De motu locali animalium secundum totum (1618); and Hieronymi Senis De totius animalis integumentis opusculum (1618) – all of which may be considered as parts of the uncompleted but monumental Totius animalis fabricae theatrum which he meant to publish and to which he devoted many years. In addition, there are in the St. Mark’s library in Venice 167 Tabulae anatomicae, collected in eight volumes, part of the 300 color plates that Fabrici finished in 1600 as his major purely anatomical work” (DSB)

NLM/Krivatsy 3836; Wellcome I, 2121 (IV), 2122 (III); Waller 2884 (III); DSB IV, p. 508. Jaynes, ‘The problem of animate motion in the seventeenth century,’ Journal of the History of Ideas 31 (1970), 219-234).



Four works on one volume, small 4to. De respiratione:  pp. [viii], 118, [2]; De gula: pp. [iv], 1-42, [2, blank], 43-184 (i.e., 174) (in seven parts listed on title verso: De gula; De ventriculo; De omento; De varietate ventriculorum; De ruminatione; De intestinis; De mesenterio); De motu: pp. [ii], 123 (i.e., 121), [1] (in 6 parts listed on title verso: De gressu in genere; De gressu bipedi pennati; De gressu quadrupedum, & multipedum; De volatu; De natatu; De raptatu) De alarum: pp. 32; De musculi: pp. [viii, index], 214 (lacking 4 preliminary leaves – title, dedication to Andrea Mauroceno, addenda and errata). Woodcut initials and head- and tail-pieces, printed marginalia. Contemporary blind-ruled calf (rather worn).

Item #4467

Price: $12,000.00