vesalius book
Volume 20,  Volume 20, Issue 1

The Illustrated Human: The Impact of Andreas Vesalius

andreas vesalius

Andreas Vesalius was a Renaissance anatomist and physician who revolutionized the study and practice of medicine through his careful description of the anatomy of the human body.

Basing his observations on dissections he made himself, he authored the first comprehensive textbook of anatomy, “De humani corporis fabrica libri septem” (“On the Fabric of the Human Body in Seven Books”). Published in 1543, “Fabrica” was the most extensive and accurate description of the human body of its time. Most likely drawn by Vesalius colleague Jan Stephan a Calcar and Italian artist Titian, the “Fabrica” is widely known for its illustrations, where skeletons and bodies with muscular structures exposed pose in scenic, pastoral settings.

The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, along with University of Cincinnati Libraries and the College of Medicine will celebrate this masterpiece with a series of lectures and exhibits scheduled from October-March 2022. Noted scholars, researchers and medical professionals will discuss Vesalius’s life story, his formative experiences and mentors, as well as the impact and controversies created by this seminal work. Panelists will discuss what Vesalius got right, what he got wrong and how the teaching of anatomy is relevant for other non-medical professions.

Accompanying the lectures will be online and in-person exhibits. On display in the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library will be the first (1543) and second (1555) editions of the “Fabrica,” the “Epitome” (1543, a significantly scaled-down version for medical students), and the “ICONES” (1934, when the original book plates were last used) and the 2014 English translation, “The Fabric of the Human Body” by Daniel Garrison and Malcolm Hast. These books also will be complemented by story board displays that will rotate through the series in the Henry R. Winkler Center’s Stanley J. Lucas, MD Board Room.

On display now through March 2022 in the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, “Before Andreas Vesalius: Medicine in Antiquity,” features works from the library’s collections that may have influenced Vesalius.

COMING SOON: The Illustrated Human online exhibit will contain images from the “Fabrica” as well as supplemental information about Andreas Vesalius.

books on display in the Classics library
Works on display in the Classics Library and from before Vesalius’s time that may have influenced his work

A schedule and more information on the various lectures, as well as information about the accompanying exhibits, can be found on the Vesalius web page.

The Illustrated Human: The Impact of Andreas Vesalius is sponsored by Stephen and Sandra Joffe.