Picturing the Book of Nature: Image, Text, and Argument in Sixteenth-Century Human Anatomy and Medical Botany
by Sachiko Kusukawa
University of Chicago Press, 2012
eISBN: 978-0-226-46528-9 | Cloth: 978-0-226-46529-6
Library of Congress Classification QH46.5.K87 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 508.0222
Reference metadata exposed for Zotero via unAPI.
Because of their spectacular, naturalistic pictures of plants and the human body, Leonhart Fuchs’s De historia stirpium and Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica are landmark publications in the history of the printed book. But as Picturing the Book of Nature makes clear, they do more than bear witness to the development of book publishing during the Renaissance and to the prominence attained by the fields of medical botany and anatomy in European medicine. Sachiko Kusukawa examines these texts, as well as Conrad Gessner’s unpublished Historia plantarum, and demonstrates how their illustrations were integral to the emergence of a new type of argument during this period—a visual argument for the scientific study of nature.
Sachiko Kusukawa is a fellow in the history and philosophy of science at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. She is the author of The Transformation of Natural Philosophy: The Case of Philip Melanchthon, Ideas in Context.
“Sachiko Kusukawa has elegantly and persuasively displayed the complexity of the choices that faced early modern learned authors regarding the use of illustrations in printed scientific books. She shows that the decision to use or to omit illustrations depended not only on financial and technical considerations, important though these were, but also on a range of intellectual positions concerning the relative authority of text, image, and personal experience; as well as on a diversity of opinion about the relation of image to natural object and to verbal description by ancient and recent writers, and about ways of employing images in an author’s own text. Her learned and absorbing study throws new light on the assumptions and practices that shaped the production of Renaissance books on human anatomy and on medical botany.”— Nancy Siraisi, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York