- Vesalius, Andreas
- (1514-1564)Physician and anatomist. Born in Brussels, he was the son of an apothecary who served the Emperor Charles V. After study at the University of Louvain, he began the study of medicine at Paris, where he found the traditional anatomy lectures useless. He then returned to Louvain, took a baccalaureate in medicine (1537), and moved on to the University of Padua, the premier medical faculty in Europe, where he received a medical doctor-ate later that same year. He was immediately appointed professor of surgery, with the duty of conducting anatomical dissections. His early Tabulae anatomicae sex / Six Anatomical Tables (1538), produced jointly with a pupil of the painter Titian, was based on the ancient Greek anatomist Galen, whose work relied on animal dissections. But Vesalius' experience in dissections convinced him that Galen's book, the standard textbook on anatomy, was full of errors, and he began criticizing Galen in his lectures.Beginning in 1540 he worked on a new manual of anatomy, De hu-mani corporis fabrica / On the Structure of the Human Body (1543), for which he employed a skilled German painter and woodcut en-graver, Jan Steven van Calcar (known in Italy as Giovanni Flam-mingo), whose illustrations reflect Vesalius' new anatomical discov-eries even more accurately than the book's Latin text. Vesalius also produced a shorter text for use by students, his Epitome. This book was quickly translated into German. A considerably revised Latin edition appeared in 1555. That same year, Vesalius joined the Span-ish court, where he found the scientific climate less favorable than Padua had been. In 1564 before leaving on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he accepted reappointment to the faculty at Padua, but he died on the return trip later that same year. His De fabrica is generally re-garded as the first significant step toward abandonment of the au-thority of Galen and the introduction of new material based on direct experimentation.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.