The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with figures drawn after the life by some Of The Best Masters In Europe, And Curiously Engraven in one hundred and fourteen copper plates, illustrated with large explications, containing many new Anatomical Discoveries, and Chururgical Observations: to which is added an introduction explaining the animal oeconomy, with a copious index.

  • Cowper, William
  • Oxford: Printed at the Theater, for Sam. Smith and Benj. Walford 1698
  • ESTC R10024; Garrison-Morton 385.1.


SKU: 4104 Category: Tags: ,


Large folio, ff. [69] + frontispiece portrait, engraved half-title, engraved title-page, and 114 plates (2 folding), the cartouche on the half-title with a pasted-over engraved slip as issued. Numerous key letters added to the plates by hand in red ink. Contemporary panelled calf, spine in compartments with central gilt tools, red morocco label. Portrait repaired and its lower margin renewed, a few smaller repairs elsewhere (particularly to first folding plate), toned and somewhat spotted throughout, light soiling. Binding rubbed and scratched, neatly rebacked preserving original spine, corners and edges renewed. Armorial bookplate of the Rt Hon Algernon Capell, Earl of Essex, to verso of title-page (dated 1701 in the engraving), armorial bookpile bookplate of the Dillon family of Ireland (name rubbed away) to front pastedown, stamp of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to title-page and blank area of several other leaves (dispersed between 2011 and 2015).


The first English edition of these important and beautiful plates, representing 'the largest in format, and most elaborate and beautiful of all 17th century English treatises on anatomy, and also one of the most extraordinary plagiarisms in the entire history of medicine' (Garrison-Morton). Cowper had purchased some 300 sets of the copperplates by Gerard de Lairesse from the publisher of Govert Bidloo's original work, produced an English version of accompanying text and a small appendix of additional material, and sold the whole as his own work: with a slip of paper engraved with Cowper's name pasted over the cartouche containing Bidloo's name on the illustrated half-title. Bidloo received a mention in the introduction but was understandably upset, attacking Cowper in print in 1700.

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