Adriaan van den Spiegel, Opera quae extant omnia ex recensione Joh. Antonidae vander Linden (Amsterdam, 1645), title page.
The Flemish anatomist Adriaan van den Spiegel (1578–1625) was a former student of Fabricius of Acquapendente (1533–1619) and he succeeded him as Professor of Anatomy on the latter’s death in 1619. His appointment reunified the chairs of anatomy and surgery at Padua, which had been split during the rivalry of Fabricius and Giulio Cesare Casseri (fl, 1552–1616) and in a sense Van den Spiegel was the intellectual heir of both anatomists. As the title page of his own major work makes clear, he also saw himself as the intellectual heir of the other great Flemish anatomist at Padua, Vesalius (1514–64), for the title of his De humani corporis fabrica libri decem was an evident nod to Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (Basle, 1543).
As Wysocki et al. note, Van den Spiegel was instrumental in bringing Casseri’s Tabulae anatomicae to the press but he did so in a round-about fashion. Prior to Casseri’s death in 1616 Van den Spiegel had been working on his own, un-illustrated, text and had asked a German physician, Daniel Bucretius (1562–1621) to edit it. On Casseri’s death he acquired 78 copperplate engraving and to these Bucretius added 20 more, by the same artist and engraver, engravings which were combined in the final publication which encompassed both Van den Spiegel’s and Casserius’ texts. As Wysocki et al, conclude, it is a work which therefore poses ‘a number of bibliographical challenges’, and on top of that it also included illustrations previously used by Vesalius himself. One might say it was a combined Paduan production! Other Casserian plates were used in a posthumous production of Van den Spiegel’s De formato foetu liber singularis (Padua, 1626), which was printed a year after the author’s death. It was, as Wysocki et al. note, ‘the first obstetrics and gynaeology classic’.
Its title page, in Worth’s 1645 Amsterdam edition, depicts Queen Astronomy at the top of the page, a skeleton to the left and a muscle man to the right, and at the end of the page the instruments of anatomy. It was a schema which would influence the iconography of the Corporis humani disquisitio anatomica in qua sanguinis circulationem in quavis corporis particula plurimis typis novis ac ænygmatum medicorum succincta dilucidatione ornatam prosequutus est Nathanael Highmorus (The Hague, 1651) of the English anatomist Nathaniel Highmore (1613–85), which is examined in the circulation of the blood webpage of this exhibition.
Johann Vesling, Syntagma anatomicum (Padua, 1647), title page, showing a public dissection, reminiscent of the famous title page of Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Basel, 1543).
The title page of the 1647 Paduan edition of Johan Vesling’s Syntagma anatomicum was another, this time iconographical, nod to Vesalius, for Vesling depicted himself at a public dissection, surrounded by his students, just as Vesalius had so famously done in the title page of De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Basle, 1543). Vesling (1598–1649), was a German anatomist who had studied medicine at the University of Leiden, enrolling there in 1619. From there he moved to the University of Bologna to pursue his botanical studies. Having taken his doctorate in medicine at Venice, he took up a position there but conflict with Pompeo Caimo (1568–1631), a lecturer in anatomy at Padua, led to the Venetian authorities deciding to appoint Vesling as physician to Alvise Cornaro, a Venetian diplomat on his way to Egypt. There Vesling studied the local flora, later publishing an important book on the subject which Worth duly bought: De plantis aegyptiis observations et notae ad Prosperum Alpinum (Padua, 1638).
By 1633 he was back in Italy, installed as Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at Padua. In 1638, on his appointment at Padua as Professor of Botany, he in effect gave up teaching on surgery but retained his chair of anatomy. Three years later he published his Syntagma Anatomicum publicis dissectionibus in auditorium usum diligenter aptatum (Frankfurt, 1641), which, as the title suggests, was based on his public dissections at Padua. As Pranghofer notes, it was ‘the most successful anatomical handbook of the second half of the seventeenth century with sixteenth editions in Latin, German, Dutch and English’. Worth owned not only the 1641 edition but also the 1647 edition, to which Vesling had added more illustrations, some of which are discussed in the ‘Muscles’ page of this online exhibition.
The fame of both Van den Spiegel and Vesling is apparent in the decision of the Dutch anatomist Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck (1609–74), to depict both Paduan professors quite literally as pillars of anatomical science on the title page of his anatomical textbook Anatome corporis humani, plurimis novis inventis instructa variisque observationibus … adornata, first published in 1672 at Utrecht, which Worth had a 1679 Genevan Latin edition. The depiction of Van den Spiegel and Vesling might be said to mirror the depiction of Hippocrates and Galen, who were often depicted in this manner on sixteenth and seventeenth-century title pages – an example of this trend is visible in the title page of Nathaniel Highmore’s Corporis humani disquisitio anatomica in qua sanguinis circulationem in quavis corporis particula plurimis typis novis ac ænygmatum medicorum succincta dilucidatione ornatam prosequutus est Nathanael Highmorus (The Hague, 1651), which is reproduced in the circulation of the blood webpage of this online exhibition.
Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck, Anatome corporis humani, plurimis novis inventis instructa variisque observationibus … adornata (Geneva, 1679), engraved title page, with depictions of Vesling and Van den Spieghel.
Text: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.
Kumar Ghost, Sanjib, ‘Johann Vesling (1598–1649): Seventeenth Century Anatomist of Padua and his Syntagma Anatomicum’, Clinical Anatomy, 27 (2014), 1122–27.
Pranghofer, Sebastian, ‘Visual Representation and the Body in Early Modern Anatomy’ (Ph.D. University of Durham, 2011).
Wysocki, Michal et al., ‘Iulius Casserius: revolutionary anatomist, teacher and pioneer of the sixteenth and seventeenth century’, Anal. Sci. Int., 91 (2016), 217–25.
 Wysocki, Michal et al., ‘Iulius Casserius: revolutionary anatomist, teacher and pioneer of the sixteenth and seventeenth century’, Anal. Sci. Int., 91 (2016), 221.
 Ibid., 222.
 On this see Kumar Ghost, Sanjib, ‘Johann Vesling (1598–1649): Seventeenth Century Anatomist of Padua and his Syntagma Anatomicum’, Clinical Anatomy, 27 (2014), 1122–3.
 Pranghofer, Sebastian, ‘Visual Representation and the Body in Early Modern Anatomy’ (Ph.D. University of Durham, 2011), p. 98.