Item #003822 [Anatomical presentation of myology and osteology]. Crisostomo Alejandrino José MARTINEZ Y. SORLI.
[Anatomical presentation of myology and osteology]
[Anatomical presentation of myology and osteology]
[Anatomical presentation of myology and osteology]

[Anatomical presentation of myology and osteology].

Paris: Chalcographie du Louvre, Musées Nationaux, 1740.

1st Edition. No Binding. Very Good. Item #003822

One (of two published) engraved plate on single sheet of strong velin paper. Impression by Chalcographie du Louvre, [plate ca. 1687, but impression after 1797 with blind stamp at foot "Chalcographie du Louvre - Musées Nationaux"]. Plate size: 690 x 525 mm, sheet size: 1019 x 710 mm. Embryo skeleton and 3 male full preparations from the front, side and back, all with measurements and radii. Above the pedestal the signature of Martinez. Light even age-toning of paper, blank margins a trifle dust-soiled, spotted and with some short clean tears partly repaired. ----

The Spanish artist Crisóstomo Alejandrino José Martínez was initially active as a painter of devotional pictures before devoting himself primarily to engraving from 1677. Interestingly, Martínez is associated with the "Novator", an intellectual movement that promoted scientific progress in Spain as the 17th century progressed. In 1685, Martínez was commissioned by the city of Valencia and the Medical Institute to travel to Paris to execute anatomical plates. Together with the physician and anatomist Joseph-Guichard Du Verney, he attempted to launch the book project in Paris that would serve as an anatomical guide for artists. Supposedly eighteen plates were completed for this project, which are preserved in Valencia. However, the book project in its original planning was never realized; in 1689 the completed plates were published in Paris, and in 1692 another partial edition appeared in Frankfurt and Leipzig. Posthumously, the plates remained in Paris, so that the Académie Royale de Peinture republished the anatomical atlas in 1740 and again in 1780 under the title Nouvelle exposition de deux grandes planches gravées, et dessinées d'après nature, par Chysostome Martinez.
"The book, as he planned it, contained the most authoritative anatomical prints made during the seventeenth century. Instead of solely focusing on the makeup of the human body as others had done before him, his intention was to show how the parts of the body related to one another, and made it function. He used the latest technology in microscopic lenses [...] and translated what he saw under magnification into folio-sized copperplates, which held more detail than had ever been seen in print before. Martinez started the project in Spain in the early 1680s, and moved to Paris in 1687 where he continued his work. The project was not yet completed when he died in 1694 [...] The copper plates for the book appear to have been left in Paris, and two were printed there as a set in 1740. After this date, there are no further records of their whereabouts" (The Metropolitan Museum, coll. no. 706006, online).
The anatomical illustration at hand impressively show the graphic finesse of the artist. Martínez combines scientific novelties of anatomy - such as new findings concerning osteology - with traditional anatomical illustration models such as Vesalius, Da Vinci, Pacioli and Dürer. The Assembly of Skeletons, for example, in which various skeletons are arranged in elegant sitting and standing poses in an architectural courtyard, is an interpretation of the academic figure ideal inspired by the idea of vanitas, in which an allusion to Raphael's School of Athens can be remotely detected. The depictions were considered the most outstanding anatomical studies of the 17th century. Whether Martinez left Paris for political reasons to go to Flanders in about 1690, where he died a few years later, remains uncertain.
"[The present] plate emphasizes Martinez' interest in the relative proportions of the human body - as the scroll on the plinth shield states, after Ezekiel, 'mensura ista mensurabis'. At the same time, in the adult figures, he brings together bones and muscles in a most interesting manner. In many cases the muscles are identified in the different views by very small numbers. Some of the muscle anatomy is not too accurate. For instance, in the posterior view of the thigh, gracilis and (presumably) sartorius just medial to it are curved too far posteriorly, and the hamstrings are not well drawn. The side-view of the calf and foot is an improvement, though it is a pity about the extensor retinaculum, which looks rather like a piece of felt laid over the tendons. However, the portrayal of pectoralis major and deltoid is good. In both the side and front views the rectus abdominis is over-conspicuous, and, in the latter, once again sartorius inclines posteriorly, above vastus medialis, at too high a level. In the posterior view, the position of the right scapula, with the arm raised from the side, is well captured; sad, though, are the single extensor tendons to each of the index and little fingers. While a reasonable anatomical presentation for its date, the small child's skeleton - possessing rather too many teeth - presumably was included to point up the proportional differences between the child and adult - for example, the mid-point of the heel - vertex height is just below the iliac crest as opposed to the level of the pubic crest (or just below the femoral head) in the adult. Bearing in mind the great variations in anatomical build, and thus in the proportions of one part of the body to another in different individuals, too detailed mensuration might be thought counter-productive. In addition to Martinez, however, others have been interested in anatomical measurement, notably Leonardo and Dürer. Martinez was one of the first to examine and study the structure of bones, and illustrations of sectioned bones feature prominently in His work" (Robert-Tomlinson, p. 284).
References: Cicognara library 334; Thieme/Becker, XXIV, p. 169; José María López Piñero: El atlas anatómico de Crisóstomo Martínez, grabador y microscopista del siglo XVII, Valencia 1964; K.B. Roberts & J.D.W. Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Body, 1992, pp. 280-86).

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