Exposition virtuelle "Vivitur ingenio: The 500th anniversary of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)" (Cambridge, <15/08/2014)

The physician Andreas Vesalius was born 500 years ago in 1514; he died fifty years later, in 1564. He is best known for his Seven books on the fabric of the human body (commonly known as the Fabrica after its Latin title) published in 1543. It was a landmark publication in the history of medicine, with its large format, numerous woodcuts and detailed description of the structures and functions of the human body. Even larger, though much shorter, was a companion piece called the Epitome of the seven books on the fabric of the human body, published in the same year. Cambridge University Library has a rich collection of sixteenth-century medical books, including four copies of the first edition, two copies of the second edition of the Fabrica, and a unique, coloured copy of the Epitome.
 
These books were innovative in form and in content. In form, they were designed with features such as dissected bodies in various gestures, tailor-made initials, continuous background landscapes, and layered paper bodies. In content, they sought to revive first- hand knowledge of anatomy as the foundation of medicine, as practised by the ancients and advocated by Galen (a Greek physician working in Rome in the second century AD). ‘Vivitur ingenio, caeteris mortis erunt’ is a phrase (attributed in the sixteenth century to Virgil) Vesalius attached to one of the images in his Fabrica. ‘Ingenium’ was a word that meant natural inclination, innate capacity, talent or wit, and when contrasted with death, it could suggest something like spirit. The phrase may thus be translated as ‘one lives on by the spirit, the rest shall belong to death’. This exhibition highlights the ‘Vesalian spirit’ by focusing on some of the striking features of Vesalius’s work within the context of other illustrated medical books of the period in the Cambridge collection:
 
https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/vesalius/
 
Cambridge University Library
<15/08/2014
Exhibition curated by Sachiko Kusukawa, with help and advice from Andrew Cunningham, Emily Dourish, Peter Jones, Rob Ralley and Jill Whitelock.
 

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