Full Muscular Form (Front View with outline plate and text)


Product No. albinus001

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Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani

This remarkable and rare large folio engraving is from Berhard Siegried Albinus’s work Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani which was illustrated by Jan Wanderlaar. This first edition work was published in London by John and Paul Knaption in 1749, the first British edition.

Tabulae sceleti is considered “AMONG THE MOST ARTISTICALLY PERFECT OF ANATOMICAL ATLASES… Wandelaar placed his skeletons and musclemen against lush ornamental backgrounds to give them the illusion of vitality, using contrasts of mass and light to produce a three-dimensional effect. The most famous plate in the atlas depicts a skeletal figure standing in front of an enormous grazing rhinoceros, sketched by Wandelaar from the first living specimen in Europe, which had arrived at Amsterdam zoo in 1741.” (Norman)

Albinus & Wanderlaar’s work was the height of collaboration between physician and artist with engravings that were scientifically accurate but exceptionally visually appealing. The pair innovated a method to transfer proportionate images of the anatomy using nets, grids, and small cords. Wanderlaar chose each background landscape carefully using mass and light to give even more life to the plates.

Albinus’s insisted on scientific accuracy and wrote: “To reproduce, not free hand (according to the view), as is customary, but from actual measure: to reproduce what the best in nature displays: to reproduce, not as the demonstrators of anatomy generally do, by merely placing before the eyes of the artist what they have uncovered, but by collecting [data] from one body after another, and making a composite according to rule so that the actual truth will be displayed…”

Albinus believed so strongly in the work that he is said to have spent double what he paid for his house to produce it, around 30,000 florin. The investment provided plates that are incomparable and widely considered to rank among the best in engraving history.

Each finished plate is accompanied by an outline plate of the same size. Many of the pages exhibit faint horizontal creases near the center that is likely from the paper being hung over a line to dry as commonly seen in Beslers.

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