Details
MASCAGNI, Paolo (1755-1815). Anatomia universa XLIV, tabulis aeneis juxta archetypum hominis adulti accuratissime repraesentata. Pisa: Firmin Didot for Nicolo Capurro, 1823-1832.

Very rare first edition of this major anatomy, an accomplishment of imposing size, with ‘an almost incredible level of detail’ (Garrison-Morton). Mascagni’s great work was left unfinished at his death. In April 1822, his heirs sold the monumental forty-four copperplates to the Pisa professors Vacca-Berlinghieri, Barzellotti and Rosini. Each is accompanied by outline plates, meant to be superposed, marked with letters and keyed to the text. ‘The size of the bodies is assumed to be three Tuscan braccia, equal to five feet, five inches, Parisian measurement, but such parts as are represented separately are sometimes drawn upon a larger scale. The sheets are so large that an entire body can be composed out of three of them when they are joined together. …This large anatomic work is unique even today, but it is certainly expensive and inconvenient for practical uses... As the editors assure the reader, it is chiefly recommended to the practicing physician and the surgeon. It may be called complete since nothing, except microscopic anatomy, histology, and the lymphatics of the skin have been omitted. Even the pregnant uterus, the placenta, and the fetus are represented in several illustrations’ (Choulant-Frank, pp.318-19). This work is very scarce. A single copy is listed in ABPC/RBH for the last forty years (our rooms, 2004), beside which only copies of the highly reduced Florence, 1833 edition appear in auction records. According to Garrison-Morton, very few sets were issued; some of them were hand-coloured by the artist, Antonio Serrantoni, and the bibliographer counts them ‘among the most breathtakingly beautiful of all anatomical studies’. Garrison-Morton 409.1; Wellcome IV, p.73.

Text: two volumes bound in 1, folio (465 x 320mm). Plates: elephant folio (1010 x 735mm); engraved title and dedication leaves, 88 plates mostly after Serantoni by Joseph Canacci, (marginal tears repaired to most leaves, not touching plates; plates 44, 63 with a short closed tear, plates 39, 45, 61, 62, 67, 68, 70, 78 somewhat spotted, plate 81 spotted and with a 200x200mm repair supplying part of an illustration in ink facsimile; plate 82 repaired (now split) far from engraving; plate 83 repaired (170x110mm) supplying part of an illustration in ink facsimile; plate 85 repaired with no loss to engraving (155x85mm); plate 86 spotted. Untrimmed in contemporary half vellum, with original printed wrappers pasted on boards both in the text and in the plate vol., front wrapper of second vol. of text and wrappers of Fasciculus V of plates bound in. Provenance: Prof. Felice Balbi, Milan (early 20th c bookplate to front pastedown).

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