Notes from the Rare Book Room “Anatome animalium”

 Anatome animalium frontispieceGerardus Blasius (1626?-1692?).  Anatome animalium.  Amsterdam, 1681.

 Although Blasius was a practicing physician in Amsterdam, his real interest lay in anatomy and, in particular, comparative anatomy.  He worked closely with philosophers and scientists such as John Locke, Jan Swammerdam, and Niels Stensen to promote the study of anatomy and to widen the availability of both animal and human remains for closer study.  Balsius’ 1681 work  is his most ambitious project and, according to historian Francis J. Cole, is the “first comprehensive manual of comparative anatomy based on the original researches of a working anatomist…”  While the author provides meticulously detailed descriptions of 119 species, it is the eye-catching images that capture the reader’s attention.  

Anatome animalium

As usual during this period, the artists and engravers receive no recognition and remain unknown, with the exception of the highly emblematic frontispiece which is the work of the Dutch illustrator and engraver Jan Luyken (1649-1712).