VIEUSSENS, Raymond (ca. 1635-1715). Neurographia universalis. Lyons: Jean Certe, 1684.
2o (335 x 222 mm). Half-title, title printed in red and black with large engraved printer's monogram, errata leaf singleton a1 at end, engraved portrait of the author by Mathieu Boulanger, 30 numbered engravings, consisting of 7 engravings in the text and 23 engraved plates, of which 3 double-page and 9 folding (plates 28 and 39 very large folding plates each composed of 6 attached sheets or portions of sheets), woodcut initials and headpieces. (Portrait supplied from another copy, some mostly marginal spotting, marginal dampstaining to last few quires damaging upper fore-corners of last few leaves, small stain affecting large folding plates 28 and 29 and quire Ff, repaired tear to plate 29, occasional minor staining at sheet junctures of plates, a few minor marginal tears at guards of folding plates.) Contemporary limp vellum (covers bowed, lower cover mildewed).
Provenance: Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), anatomist and the first modern anthropologist (engraved booklabel and note on the work on verso of front free endpaper).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, with title dated 1684, of the most thoroughly illustrated monograph of the nervous system of the 17th-century, and an important contribution to the study of the brain and spinal cord. Vieussens was chief physician of the Htel-Dieu de St. loi for over 40 years, a post that permitted him to perform a large number of autopsies. His research into the central nervous system was "of great importance. In Neurographia universalis he sought to continue the work of Thomas Willis [see lots 866-870], which he greatly admired. The first to make good use of Steno's suggestion that the white substance in the brain should be studied by tracing the paths of its fibers, Vieussens described the olivary nucleus and the centrum semiovale; the latter still bears his name. Moreover, his description of the fine structure of the cerebellum, including the discovery of the dentate nuclei, surpassed all previous publications on the subject. The most original part of the work concerns the paths of the peripheral nerves" (DSB). Vieussens' most important observations, which he himself greatly underrated, concerned the pathology of heart disease; these were undertaken in the last decade of his life and published in his Trait nouveau de la structure... du coeur (Toulouse 1715).
The fine engraved illustrations of his neurological treatise include two large folding plates of the nervous system (plates 28-29), printed from two impressions of a single plate, of which one in reverse, presumably printed through an offset technique: the figure's left side (on the viewer's right), is an exact reverse image of the right side, including the captions and key-numbers. Both the scarcer first issue and the second issue, in which the title is dated 1685, are misleadingly described as editio nova on the title.
FINE ASSOCIATION COPY. Garrison-Morton 1379; Heirs of Hippocrates 641; NLM/Krivatsy 12403; Osler 4171; Waller 9961; Norman 2153.