The recently restored Pitture colorate d'Anatomia of G.F. D'Acquapendente on the human nervous system

G. Zanchin, T. Plebani, R. De Caro, F. Maggioni and L. Premuda
Dept. of Neurological Sciences, University of Padova, Italy

With this holograph will, G.F. D'Acquapendente bequeathed a large collection of anatomical paintings on paper to the S. Mark's Library in Venice (1522). More than two hundred are preserved: they have been subjected to a conservative restoration that ended in January 1977. We will specifically deal with the 21 plates De anatomia capitis, cerebri, nervorum, considered before and after their restoration. The analysis of two of them regarding the cranial nerves allows some observations on the delicacy of any intervention on ancient iconography which adds a relevant scientific value to the aesthetical aspect. In more general terms, when compared with those of previous and subsequent anatomists such as Vesalius (1543), Eustachius (ca. 1552), Willis (1664), Ruysch (1699), and Santorini (1775), most of these plates show a superior realism. Although unfortunately they were without impact on the anatomical knowledge (they were never published and their discovery in the S. Mark's Library in Venice dates back only to the beginning of this century), they document the highest achievement in iconography of the human nervous system, attained by the naturalistic approach of the XVI century Paduan anatomical school.

Session I
Friday, 20 June 1997, 9.00 - 9.15

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands