Paris: Francois Ambroise Didot l'Aine, 1786.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Large Folio. Very Good. Item #003477
Large folio (493 x 330 mm). , -123  pp. of text, including half title, allegorical aquatint frontispiece printed in colour and finished by hand, engraved explanation leaf by Beaublé, typographic dedication leaf to Louis XVI, engraved title vignette. Bound before the atlas part is a 4 pp. text with the drop title "Traité d'anatomie et de physiologie, dédie au roi [...] prospectus," dated 8 July 1785. Atlas part: , -17 ; , 20-38; , 42-68; , 72-87 ; , 90-111  pp. of plate explanatory text, including 5 divisional titles (of which 2 included in pagination) and 69 plates numbered I-XXXV consisting of 34 plates engraved with a combination of aquatint, line- and stipple-engraving, and printed in colors, 34 accompanying outline plates and a single line-engraved plate (no. XVIII) after Soemmerring's "De basi encephali" (1778). All plates protected by tissue guards. Bound in contemporary tree calf, covers with gilt border, gilt decorated spine with gilt-lettered green morocco label, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpaper and marbled edges (extremities and covers rubbed, short split at upper joint at spine foot, lower corners bumped and scuffed). Text and plates only little age-toned and with minor occasional spotting, dust soiling and faint foxing; second flyleaf, half-title and explanation leaf with single vertical crease; short tear to top blank margin of p.35/36; short marginal tear to plain pl. XIX, tiny chip to coloured pl. XXXII. Provenance: Jean Blondelet. An excellent copy in original binding. ----
Norman 2150; Waller 9953; Garrison-Morton 401.2; Brunet V, 1176; Heirs of Hippocrates 1073. - FIRST EDITION of "the most accurate neuroanatomical work produced before the advent of microscopic staining techniques" (Garrison-Morton). Vicq d'Azyr, permanent secretary to the Societe Royale de Medecine and personal physician to Marie-Antoinette, was a skilled comparative anatomist, eminent veterinarian, and prolific writer of medical articles and treatises, those on comparative anatomy and public health being of the most lasting importance. The interest of the present work, projected as a multi-volume study of human anatomy and physiology but never finished, lies in its intelligent utilization of the new print-making technique of aquatint for the purpose of accurate anatomical illustration. The striking illustrations "created a sensation at the time," according to Brunet. Vicq d'Azyr's principal original contributions to the understanding of human anatomy lay in his studies of the brain, the subject of this first volume. He developed a technique of brain dissection using the hardening effect of alcohol, which avoided damage to the delicate surfaces (fixatives such as formalin having not yet been developed). "Like Steno before him, Vicq d'Azyr attached great importance to the structure of the fibers in the white matter of the brain... He also described the mammillothalamic bundle and Reil's ribbon. Rejecting the views of Malpighi and Vieussens, who attributed no functional importance to the cerebral cortex, Vicq d'Azyr attempted to systematize its complex morphology. In particular he isolated the convolution of the corpus callosum, the cuneus, and the sulcus separating the frontal lobe from the parietal, later described by Rolando (1829)" (DSB). One of his principal concerns was the absence of a standard nomenclature for the cerebral convolutions, a problem that he attempted to remedy in the present work, which contains the entire corpus of his work on the brain. Vicq d'Azyr had commenced publication of the work in parts, undoubtedly at his own expense. The Revolution prevented its completion, and, since the instructions for binding the work were probably never issued, copies differ in the order in which they are bound. COMPLETE COPIES LIKE THIS ARE RARE and we haven't seen so far any copy that includes the 4 pre-publication(?) pages of the prospectus as present here.
The collation is complicated and as follows:  ll. half-title, frontispiece explanation, frontispiece, title, dedication; pp. -54 "Discours sur l'anatomie […]"; pp. - (Vocabulaire anatomique [...]; pp. (1)-4 (drop title) Traité d'anatomie et de physiologie, dédie au roi [...] prospectus;  l. (1st divisional title), pp. 1-10 (plate explanations), 12 plates (no. I-VI), pp. 11- (réflexions sur les plates);  l. (2nd divisional title), pp. -30 (plate explanations), 12 plates (no. VII-XII), pp. 31-38 (réflexions sur les plates), pp. [39-40] (3rd divisional title), pp. -60 (plate explanations), 13 plates (no. XIII-XIX), pp. -68 (réflexions sur les plates), pp. [69-70] (4th divisional title); pp. -84 (plate explanations), 16 plates (no. XX-XXVII), pp. - (réflexions sur les plates);  l. (5th divisional title), pp. - (plate explanations), 16 plates (no. XXVIII-XXXV), pp. 105- (réflexions sur les plates).
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