The many reasons why Vesalius's Fabrica was an important book
Sachiko Kusukawa (Trinity College, University of Cambridge)*
Dijous 26 de noviembre de 2015 12.00h
Lloc: Residència d’Investigadors (CSIC-Generalitat de Catalunya)
c/ Hospital, 64. 08001 Barcelona
Coordinen: Jon Arrizabalaga (IMF-CSIC) i Fernando Vidal (ICREA/CEHIC-UAB)
Activitat organitzada per la Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC, Barcelona) i el Centre d’Història de la Ciència (UAB)
amb la col·laboració de la Residència d’Investigadors i la participació del SGR 1410 - HIS-STM
* Professor Sachiko Kusukawa is Fellow in History and Philosophy of Science of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Her research specialism is in history of science, cultural and intellectual history, and the history of the book. She has published on Protestant natural philosophy, university textbooks and libraries, and visual arguments in illustrated scientific books. Recent research has focused on the observational, descriptive and pictorial practices in the development and production of scientific knowledge in the early modern period (1500-1720). Her work on visual arguments in sixteenth-century botanical and anatomical works has resulted in the monograph Picturing the book of nature. Image, Text, and Argument in Sixteenth-Century Human Anatomy and Medical Botany (University of Chicago Press, 2012) for which she was awarded the 2014 Pfizer Prize by the History of Science Society.
In 1998, a coloured copy of Andreas Vesalius’ On the fabric of the human body, the dedication copy to Emperor Charles V, was sold at Christies for $1.65 million. An uncoloured copy in contemporary binding was auctioned for $412,000 in 2011. The book is perhaps the most iconic book in the history of medicine, and has been a desirable object to collect for retired physicians with deep pockets. But is such a high esteem justified, especially when few of the modern collectors have read or understood the Latin text? Some historians of art have argued that the text of the book is irrelevant, as it is the illustrations –even if they were not made by Titian– that make the book exceptional. This talk will discuss the significance of Vesalius’ book in terms of its images and text, its design as a book, and its content in the context of sixteenth-century medical book production, and will offer a brief survey of its reception in later periods.