An Anatomical Work of Uncommon Beauty
Bourgery, Marc Jean (1797-1849). Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme, comprenant la médecine opératoire. 8 vols. Paris, 1831-1854.
Paule Dumaitre in his Histoire de la médecine et du livre medical (Paris, 1978) commented that Bourgery’s work is considered today without question the most beautiful French work of anatomy published in 19th century. It is also without question one of the most beautifully illustrated anatomical and surgical treatises ever published in any language. The 726 hand-colored lithographs were executed after drawings by Nicolas Henri Jacob (1781-1871), a pupil of David. Jacob made his drawings from dissections and other anatomical preparations, some of which were prepared by Claude Bernard (see Heirs of Hippocrates No. 1792 ff.). One of the activities Bernard undertook in 1845, most likely to compensate for income lost when he resigned as Magendie’s student assistant, was to prepare dissections for Jacob. Although he is not recognized as a contributor, drawings made from some of his preparations appear in this first edition. Bourgery studied medicine at Paris where he interned under Laennec and Dupuytren and won gold medals for excellence from the Paris faculty of medicine and hospital administration. After ten years as health officer at Romilly, Bourgery returned to Paris to continue his career in anatomy and surgery. In addition to the present work he prepared an earlier illustrated anatomy and contributed a number of papers to the medical journals of his day. Bourgery divided his treatise into four parts which covered descriptive anatomy, surgical anatomy and techniques, general anatomy, and embryology and microscopic anatomy. Four volumes of the set are devoted to surgical anatomy and cover in detail nearly all the major operations that were performed during the first half of the nineteenth century. The University of Iowa Libraries’ copy lacks Planche 85 in Volume IV (lymphatics of the axilla).