Compendiosa totius anatomie delineatio, ære exarata per Thomam Geminum.
Geminus, Thomas, d. 1562
[Imprinted by T. Geminus]
125 p.; 39 x 28cm.
An abridgement of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, the Compendiosa was important for introducing Vesalian anatomy into England. Vesalius's original woodcut illustrations have been redrawn and engraved in copper. The backgrounds have been modified, and a few figures appear in reverse. Geminus was unjustly accused of plagiarising Vesalius (the first of several plagiarisms); but in fact Geminus acknowledged his debt to Vesalius in the introduction to the first edition, published in Latin in London in 1545. However, Vesalius's name is absent from the English translations that appeared in 1553 and 1559. Geminus, also known as Lambrit or Lambert, is believed to have emigrated to England from the Low Countries about 1540. He established himself as a successful instrument maker and engraver, and introduced into England the use of copper engraving for book illustration. The first work to contain engravings produced by Geminus, was the 1545 revision of Thomas Raynalde's The byrth of mankynd, which had two small plates copied from Vesalius. Geminus's own Compendiosa, with its forty illustrations was the second English book to be illustrated with copper plates, and the first to have an engraved title page. The first edition of the Compendiosa, published in 1545, is dedicated to Henry VIII to whom Geminus, despite his lack of formal medical training, was physician. The plates are accompanied by the text of Vesalius' Epitome, and the Latin text of Vesalius' descriptions of the illustrations from De fabrica. The English translation, undertaken by Nicholas Udall the dramatist and translator of Erasmus, substituted Vesalius' Latin text with an English 'treatyse', based on Thomas Vicary's Anatomie of the bodie of man (1548), together with fragments from other works (including Ludovicus Vassæus). The English translation was intended for the benefit of the barber-surgeons, most of whom knew no Latin. The first English translation was dedicated to Edward VI, while the second English was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, and is notable for the engraved portrait, believed to be the earliest depiction of the newly crowned queen. Geminus's plates were in turn pirated in several other English medical works (notably later editions of Raynalde's The byrth of mankind; William Bullein's The gouvernement of health; Thomas Vicary's A profitable treatise of the anatomie of mans bodie; and John Banester's The historie of man sucked from the sappe of the most approved anathomistes). The plates were eventually acquired by Jacques Grévin, and were used by the Paris printer André Wechel for Grévin's Anatomes totius, ære insculpta delineatio, without acknowledgement to Geminus.
LeRoy Crummer, 'The copper plates in Raynalde and Geminus,' Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, v. 20 (1926), Section of history of medicine, 53-56; DNB; DSB; Herrlinger, p. 121-122; Thirty books, p. 40-42; G.L. Keynes, 'The Anatomy of Thomas Geminus,' Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons, v. 25 (1959), 171-175; C.D. O'Malley, 'Introduction' to Thomas Geminus Compendiosa totius anatomie delineatio: a facsimile of the first English edition of 1553 in the version of Nicholas Udall (London, 1959), p. 9-39.
Jason A. Hannah Collection
Fisher copy may be wanting two plates.