Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata = The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures ...
Hunter, William, 1718-1783
Printed by J. Baskerville, sold in London by S. Baker and G. Leigh [etc.]
 p. 34 plates; 57 x 48 cm
William Hunter began his medical career in 1738 as assistant to William Cullen in Hamilton, Scotland. At the same time he attended the lectures of Alexander Monro primus, before moving to London in 1740, where he lived with William Smellie. In 1741 he became assistant to James Douglas, and tutor to his son. In 1746 he gave his first anatomical lecture in Covent Garden. His interest in midwifery dates from 1748, and the following year he was appointed to the Middlesex Hospital, and subsequently to the Lying-In Hospital for Women in Brownlow Street. In addition to establishing his own school of midwifery in London, Hunter also created a thriving private practice. In 1762 he attended Queen Charlotte, and in 1764 was appointed Physician Extraordinary to Her Majesty. In 1768 he was awarded the Chair in Anatomy at the Royal Academy. Work on his great atlas was begun in 1750, when Hunter acquired the body of a woman at full term. In October 1751 he announced his intention of publishing an obstetrical atlas, and invited subsciptions, but it was not until November 1774 that the great work was finally issued. In the intervening twenty-four years, Hunter and his equally famous brother, John, dissected eleven more subjects, which were drawn with great skill chiefly by Jan van Rymsdyk. The finished atlas contains thirty-four large plates, thirty-one of which were drawn by Rymsdyk, and one each by Edward Edwards (1738-1806), Nicholas Blakey (d. 1758), and Alexander Cozens (d. 1786); the original drawings are preserved in the Hunterian Collection at the University of Glasgow. Eighteen engravers, many of them French, were employed to prepare the plates, and were supervised by the outstanding engraver of the period, Sir Robert Strange (1721-1792), who executed two of the plates himself. Strange was singled out for praise in the preface to the book, though no acknowledgment is made to Rymsdyk, who understandably took offence at the omission. The book, an elephant folio, was printed by the famous Birmingham printer John Baskerville, and was one of only two medical works to issue from his press. It sold for six guineas. The accompanying text, describing the plates, was printed in English and Latin. The atlas was intended to provide illustrations for Hunter's An anatomical description of the human gravid uterus and its contents, a work Hunter left unfinished at his death in 1783. It was eventually published in 1794, with a preface by Hunter's nephew Matthew Baillie. A second edition was issued in 1843.
Betsy Copping Corner, 'Dr. Ibis and the artists: a sidelight upon Hunter's atlas, The Gravid Uterus,' Journal of the history of medicine, Winter 1951, 1-21; J.L. Thornton & P.C. Want, 'William Hunter's 'The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus' 1774-1974,' Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology of the British Commonwealth, v. 81, no. 1 (Jan., 1974), 1-10; Robert Ollerenshaw. 'Dr. Hunter's 'Gravid uterus' - a bicentenary note,' Medical and biological illustration, v. 24 (1974), 43-57. J.L. Thornton & P.C. Want. 'Artist versus engraver in William Hunter's 'Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus', 1774,' Medical and biological illustration, v. 24 (1974), 137-139; J.L. Thornton & P.C. Want. 'Jan van Rymsdyk's illustrations of the gravid uterus drawn for Hunter, Smellie, Jenty and Denman,' Journal of audiovisual media in medicine, v. 2 (1979), 11-15; Choulant-Frank, p. 296-298; Thirty books, p. 75-77.
Jason A. Hannah Collection
Preface and descriptive letterpress in Latin and English in parallel columns.
Baskerville, John, 1706-1775