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B O DY


A dissected man with separate sections of the brain


The anatomist’s printer


When Padua-based Andreas Vesalius (1514–64) published his influential anatomy book De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) in 1543, he sent his manuscript all the way to Basel to be printed, requesting particular care be taken with the illustrations. ‘These have not been executed merely as simple outlines like ordinary diagrams in textbooks,’ he wrote, ‘but have been given a proper pictorial quality.’


From De Humani Corporis Fabrica, 1543 Andreas Vesalius b11536196 Wellcome Library


‘The Flayed Angel’


A dissected man with separate sections of the brain Oil on canvas Jacques Fabien Gautier Dagoty, 1764–65 RRa0003.1 / 44573i Wellcome Library


Almost 150 years after it was painted, this vividly coloured panel was described by the Lancet as ‘a remarkable adornment to any great medical library or institute’. Yet the French virtuoso Jacques Fabien Gautier Dagoty (1710–85) is better known as a pioneer of three- and four-colour printing than as a painter. Dagoty improved on the mezzotint process


initially developed by his tutor Christophe Le Blon (1667–1741) and also obtained the exclusive royal licence to use it. In so doing, he brought life and tone to the world of anatomical reproductions and created opportunities to sell images of the body in multiple formats. While a printed version of the brain dissec- tions shown here had earlier appeared in his 1748 book Anatomie de la Tête en Tableaux Imprimés, the entire composition was also produced and sold as a lurid life-sized print.


Dagoty’s best-known anatomical print is sometimes called ‘The Flayed Angel’. Originally published in the 1745 anatomical album Essai d’Anatomie en Tableaux Imprimés, which Dagoty co-produced with physician and anatomist Joseph Guichard Duverney (1648– 1730), the image found more recent fame when displayed in Gunther von Hagens’s Body Worlds exhibition (see p. 61).


Colour mezzotint illustration from Essai d’Anatomie en Tableaux Imprimés, 1745–46 Jacques Fabien Gautier Dagoty 572024i Wellcome Library


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