• Valuable Printed Books and Man auction at Christies

    Sale 5334

    Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts

    13 June 2012, London, King Street

  • Lot 85

    VESALIUS, Andreas (1514-1564). De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem. Basel: Johannes Oporinus, August 1555.

    Price Realised  


    VESALIUS, Andreas (1514-1564). De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem. Basel: Johannes Oporinus, August 1555.

    2° (440 x 282mm). Woodcut dedicatory frontipiece showing Vesalius lecturing from the dissection table, portrait of Vesalius, about 200 woodcut text illustrations, 23 full-page, two folding, last leaf with printer's device on verso, historiated initials. Folding plate X1 bound after second folding plate (bb6+1). (Repaired tears in folding plates and X2, effecting some text or woodcut on X1 and X2, X1 stained, small stain at extreme upper margin at end.) Contemporary Wittenberg binding by Thomas Kruger (active c.1562-91): blindtooled pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, two panel stamps on sides [Crucifixion and Resurrection on upper; Crucifixion and Imperial arms, both signed Kruger, Haebler IV-V], saints' and other rolls [Haebler 1, 3, 4, 9], 'Vesalius' lettered on upper cover, two clasps, evidence of chain staple on lower cover (some wear and staining). Provenance: early ?classmarks on title -- Ford (modern ink title inscription).

    SECOND FOLIO EDITION, establishing the corrected and revised authorial text, a publication 'even more lavish than the first' (Heirs of Hippocrates). It was printed on heavier paper with larger type, a new set of woodcut initials was cut, and the famous frontispiece of an anatomy was recut, now with a clothed (previously naked) figure perching on the left; the highly influential, elegant and scientific anatomical illustrations and portrait of Vesalius are printed from the original, 1543 blocks. A FRESH, EXCEPTIONALLY TALL COPY IN A FINE WITTENBERG BINDING BY THOMAS KRüGER.

    The Fabrica is 'a complete anatomical and physiological study of every pary of the human body ... [dealing] with bones and muscles, blood vessels, nerves, abdominal viscera, thoracic organs and the brain' (PMM). It is considered not only the most famous anatomical book ever published but the most beautiful, combining scientific exposition, art and typography to create a Renaissance masterpiece. Garrison-Morton, 377; Horblit 98 (1543 edition); Dibner 122; PMM 71; Choulant pp. 181ff; Heirs of Hippocrates 283.

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