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BOURDON, Aimé (1638-1706). Nouvelles tables anatomiques où sont representées au naturel toutes les parties du corps humain... Cambray: chez l'Auteur and Paris: Laurens d'Houry, 1678.
BOURDON, Aimé (1638-1706). Nouvelles tables anatomiques où sont representées au naturel toutes les parties du corps humain... Cambray: chez l'Auteur and Paris: Laurens d'Houry, 1678.

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BOURDON, Aimé (1638-1706). Nouvelles tables anatomiques où sont representées au naturel toutes les parties du corps humain... Cambray: chez l'Auteur and Paris: Laurens d'Houry, 1678.

2o. 8 unbound engraved plates (each approximately 1040 x 838 mm) by Daniel le Bossu (fl. 1670-1700) after Bourdon. (Creased where previously folded.) Housed in large modern buckram portfolio.

FIRST AND ONLY EDITION of this exceptionally beautiful and virtually unknown series of 8 anatomical copperplates drawn by the physician and artist Aimé Bourdon, and published in remarkably large format by him in the small French town of Cambray with distribution by the Paris publisher, Laurens d'Houry. Choulant, writing in the 1840s, commented upon the excessive rarity of this work. He also claimed that the plates were reissued in 1683 (with the second edition of the text) and in 1707, the year after Bourdon's death; however, we have been able to find no evidence of either reissue. The comparatively tiny duodecimo text to Bourdon's atlas, published the year after the atlas, was reprinted in 1683, 1685 and 1687. Copies of both the original 1679 edition and the 1685 printing are included here.

Bourdon's magnificent anatomical atlas must surely be the largest (in terms of format) ever published, surpassing even the double elephant folio of Mascagni, Anatomia Universa (1823-30), the plates of which measured 950 by 635 mm. Bourdon's plates, which measure 1036 by 840 mm. (approx. 40¾ by 33 inches), are made up of two full sheets pasted together, plus two partial sheets containing explanatory text mounted on the left edge of each plate. Each sheet was printed separately, since it would have been virtually impossible to engrave and print from a single plate of this size at that time. "The first plate represents a front and back view of a male body and also bears the title... The second, consists of four front views of the trunk. The third, shows the abdominal viscera, and the fourth, the thoracic organs, the genitals and the brain. The fifth and sixth plates are representations of the bones and muscles, the seventh and eighth of the nerves and the blood vessels" (Choulant-Frank, p. 249). Many of the images are quite striking from an artistic standpoint, particularly the female figure on the last plate, with her flowing hair and clouds of visible breath-one of the few non-pregnant female images to appear in an anatomical atlas of this period. All of the plates were drawn by Bourdon, about whom very little is known except that he was a physician at Cambray who had the vision to draw and publish a work of medical art that is truly striking in its format and graphic appeal. Even the calligraphy of the captions and titles is gorgeous.

Few copies of this work could have been published without heavy wear to the huge copperplates, and in any case a series of large wall charts like these would have minimum survival. On the dramatic first plate which also doubles as a title-page for the series, the author also advertises hand-colored copies of this work. None seems to exist, however. Because of the rarity of this work it is for the most part unknown to historians of medicine and art. In North America only the National Library of Medicine appears to hold a complete set. In England there is a complete set at the Wellcome Library. We know of no other sets in private hands. For Bourdon see Hirsch and Nouvelle Biographie Générale; Choulant-Frank p. 249; NLM/Krivatsy 1619 (text); 1622 (atlas); Sappol, Dream Anatomy, p. 22; Waller 1357 (no text); Wellcome II, p. 214.

[With:]

BOURDON, Aimé. Nouvelle description anatomique de toutes les parties du corps humain.... Paris: Jacques Langlois, 1679. 12o. Contemporary calf, spine gilt (some rubbing). FIRST EDITION. NLM/Krivatsy 1619.

[With:]

BOURDON, Aimé. Nouvelle description anatomique de toutes les parties du corps humain.... Lyon: Benoist Vignieu, 1685. 12o. Contemporary calf, spine gilt (some worming to sides and spine ends). Third edition. (3)
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