BOURGERY, Jean Baptiste Marc (1797-1849). Traité complet de l'anatomie de l'homme, comprenant la médicine opératoire. Paris: C.-A. Delaunay, 1831-54.
16 volumes in 8, 2o (427 x 330 mm). 8 lithographed titles, lithographed frontispiece, and 726 lithographed plates most after Nicolas Henri Jacob (most hand-colored, 11 folding) (some spotting and occasional minor staining, pl. 6 in vol. 5 torn). (Some spotting, text to pl. 7 in vol. 5 torn.) Contemporary half morocco (rebacked preserving original spines on most volumes, some corners renewed). Provenance: Ignatius F. Horstmann (signature on title-pages).
FIRST EDITION. This work, in eight folio volumes with over 2000 pages of text and 726 hand-colored lithographed plates (incorporating 3604 individual figures), is the most comprehensive, and perhaps the most beautiful anatomical and surgical atlas of the nineteenth century. It was published in parts over 23 years and represented the life work of Bourgery, who died before completion. Some copies were issued with the plates in black and white at half the price of the colored copies. The black and white images lack much of the visual drama of the hand-colored plates.
The artist who directed the massive program of prosection, and who was responsible for 512 of the spectacular illustrations, was Nicholas-Henri Jacob (1782-1871) a student of the neo-classical painter of the French Revolution, Jacques-Louis David. Bourgery considered Jacob his full collaborator in the project. The influence of the highly finished style of David is evident in the plates for this work. Before embarking on this project Jacob had gained considerable experience drawing on stone for lithographic publications. Jacob's artistic collaborators on the project were his wife, Charlotte Hublier-Jacob, Jean Baptiste Leveillé, Edmond Pochet, E. Roussin, and others. The physiologist Claude Bernard did dissections and anatomical preparations for only two of the images, and a few captions. Bernard played a somewhat greater editorial role in the slightly expanded second edition of the work published from 1866 to 1871. For both versions the precisely-detailed hand-coloring was done by an elaborate system of stencils; otherwise the time involved in the intricate hand-coloring all of the large plates might have made the edition impossible.
When Choulant published the original German edition of his history and bibliography of anatomical illustration in 1852 Bourgery and Jacob had not completed the first edition of their publication, and Choulant may not have considered it in the category of historical works. However, it is also possible that, working in German libraries, Choulant was unfamiliar with the work since he also ignored the earlier French lithographed atlas by Cloquet that definitely fell within the scope of his study. More significantly, in 1898, when Duval and Cuyer published their Histoire de l'Anatomie Plastique, they ignored Bourgery & Jacob's monumental work, perhaps considering it a practical work rather than recognizing its great aesthetic value. Roughly twenty years later when Mortimer Frank translated and supplemented the original German edition of Choulant he also ignored the early French lithographed atlases. Until Roberts & Tomlinson published The Fabric of the Human Body in 1992 these works, with their obvious historical importance to our views of the interior of the human body, were for the most part ignored by historians. Recently all the colored plates from Bourgery & Jacob's work were republished in a magnificent one volume folio edition with an excellent and very thorough historical introduction by Jean-Marie Le Minor and Henri Sick, which provides a great deal of information on this work that was not previously available. The editors point out that although most of the text has become obsolete the anatomical images are still very useful and informative, and the surgical images are among the best illustrations of nineteenth-century intruments and operations. The commentaries of the new edition are in French, German, and English: Bourgery & Jacob, Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery (2005); Heirs of Hippocrates 1569; Roberts & Tomlinson pp. 537-38; Waller 1372; Wellcome II, p. 214. (8)