De dissectione partium corporis humani.
Paris: Simon de Colines, 1545.
Folio: 34.7 x 23 cm.  lvs., 377 p. Collation: *-**6; A-Z8 AA6.
A truly very fine, crisp copy in 18th c. mottled French calf, the spine richly tooled in gold with floral ornaments and a red morocco label. Roman type, side-notes and index in italic. Colines' woodcut device (Schreiber's "Tempus I") on title. 62 full-page woodcut illustrations printed from 56 blocks, one signed S.R. (Stephanus Riverius), 7 others signed by Jean Jollat, either with his name or with his Mercury symbol, a few dated 1530, 1531 or 1532, 4 of these plus one other cut signed with the Lorraine cross and cut by the Tory master (Jacquemin Woeiriot?), 101 small woodcut diagrams in the text (including repeats). 9-, 6- and 3-line white-on-black criblè initials, a few 3-line woodcut initials.
A very attractive copy of this exquisitely illustrated work with minor repairs and trivial blemishes as follows: early (18th c.) irregular paper repair to tear on leaf A6, without loss. Occasional marginal smudges, a few light damp-stains to the corners of the opening gatherings. Spots in the margin of leaf A8, C5, and E2-5; small tear in blank lower margin of C5; leaf C6 lightly stained; 18th c. paper repair covering a few words on leaf G2; marginal stain on M3; paper repair in upper blank margin of final leaf. Bound in a very handsome binding.
"The first published work to include illustrations of the whole external venous and nervous systems. A French translation (“La dissection des parties du corps humain”) appeared from the same press in 1546. The physician author was the son of Henri Estienne, the founder of the Estienne dynasty of scholar-printers, and the son-in-law of the printer of this book, Simon de Colines.
The magnificent woodcuts in this work were by Jean ("Mercure") Jollat in collaboration with the surgeon/artist, Estienne de la Riviere, possibly after designs by the Florentine artist/architect Giovanni Battista Rosso. The cuts were begun as early as 1530 by Jollat, and Estienne and Riviere collaborated on the book as early as 1539.
However publication of this manual of dissection was delayed because of a lawsuit brought against Estienne by Riviere. Had the book appeared prior to 1543 as planned, it would have eclipsed some of the innovation of Vesalius's Fabrica" (Krivatsy 1391).
Charles Estienne studied medicine in Paris, completing his training in 1540. In 1535, during his course of anatomical studies under Jacobus Sylvius, Estienne had Andreas Vesalius as a classmate. At the time the only illustrated manuals of dissection available were the writings of Berengario da Carpi, and the need for an improved, well-illustrated manual must have been obvious to all students of anatomy, particularly the medical student son of one of the world's leading publishers. Estienne did not hesitate to fill this need.
The manuscript and illustrations for De Dissectione were completed by 1539, and the book was set in type halfway through Book 3 and the last section, when publication was stopped by a lawsuit brought by Etienne de la Rivière, an obscure surgeon and anatomist who had attended lectures at the Paris faculty during 1533-1536, overlapping the time of Estienne's medical study in Paris. The printing work was done at the Estienne Press by Charles Estienne's stepfather Simon de Colines, who ran the press from Henri Estienne's death until Charles's brother Robert came of age. According to the account of Quesnay, Estienne may have attempted to plagiarize a manuscript of Rivière which the latter had turned over to him for translation from French into Latin. In the eventual settlement of the lawsuit, Estienne was required to credit Rivière for the various anatomical preparations, and for the pictures of the dissections.
The anatomical woodcuts in De Dissectione have attracted much critical attention due to their wide variation in imagistic quality, the oddly disturbing postures of the figures in Books 2 and 3, the obvious insertion in many blocks (again, in Books 2 and 3) of separately cut pieces for the dissected portions of the anatomy, and the uncertainty surrounding the sources of the images. The book sold unusually well for a dissection manual and anatomical textbook, causing the publishers to issue an edition in French only one year later, in 1546.
Had De Dissectione been published in 1539, it would have stolen much of the thunder from Vesalius's Fabrica (1543): it would have been the first work to show detailed illustrations of dissection in serial progression, the first to discuss and illustrate the total human body, the first to publish instructions on how to mount a skeleton, and the first to set the anatomical figures in a fully developed panoramic landscape, a tradition begun by Berengario da Carpi. Nonetheless, Estienne's work still contained numerous original contributions to anatomy, including the first published illustrations of the whole external venous and nervous systems, and descriptions of the morphology and purpose of the "feeding holes" of bones, the tripartite composition of the sternum, the valvulae in the hepatic veins and the scrotal septum. In addition, the work's eight dissections of the brain give more anatomical detail that had previously appeared. .
Norman 728; Garrison-Morton 378; Heirs of Hippocrates 256; Carlino, Paper Bodies: A Catalogue of Anatomical Fugitive Sheets 1538-1687 (1999) 23-26; Choulant-Frank, pp. 152-155; Kellett, "Perino del Vaga et les illustrations pour l'anatomie d'Estienne," Aesculape 37 (1955), pp. 74-89; McHenry, p. 40; Norman 728; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 5c; Renouard Colines pp. 409-410; Sappol, Dream Anatomy, pp. 2, 75, 94-97; Schreiber Colines 222 and pp. x xxiv-xxxvi; Stillwell Science 626; Wellcome 6076; DSB 4:412-413; Adams S-1725