This outstanding work on anatomy includes 105 engraved folio plates. Govard Bidloo’s Anatomia humani corporis or Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams, Dutch Edition, was published in 1690 in Amsterdam by Joannes van Someren, Joannes van Dyk, Hendrik, and Dirk Boom. The work was drawn by Gerard de Lairesse and engraved by Pieter van Gunst. The engravings from this work are “masterpieces of Dutch Baroque art” (Garrison & Morton 385). Lairesse created a realness with his art, showing the human body dissected in contrast to the skin in it’s natural form. Lairesse drew upon Dutch still-life painting to create plates that showed a very clear view of dissection at the time. Lairesse also drew pregnancies and premature infants displaying compassion and a very real part of scientific study (Christie’s). Lairesse was a painter and writer on art theory. He was influenced greatly by Rembrandt and taught by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. It is widely believed that some of Lairesse’s drawings were engraved by Abraham Bloteling, a line engraver who also worked in the field of mezzotints. Pieter and Philip van Gunst are also believed to have engraved many of the plates. Bidloo began this work in 1676 while obtaining his medical degree and working as a surgeon. Bidloo was a Dutch physician, anatomist, poet, and playwright. Bidloo also served as the personal physician of William III, Dutch Stadholder and King of England. Bidloo’s work is also noted for its early depictions of skin and hair from microscope observation (Christie’s). William Cowper is believed to have purchased 300 sets of Lairesse’s plates after the printing of the Dutch Edition. Cowper reissued the plates under his name in 1698 with no mention or credit to Bidloo or Lairesse. Plagarism was common at the time, but Bidloo widely objected to the use of his plates without permission. The argument over the use of the plates is one of the most famous in medical history (Christie’s).
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