Friday, February 24, 2012

New acquisition: William Cowper's Myotomia Reformata, 1724

An exciting new addition to our History of Medicine collection has just arrived!

Cowper, William. Myotomia Reformata, or, An Anatomical Treatise on the Muscles of the Human Body. London: R. Knaplock, 1724.

William Cowper (1666-1709) was an English surgeon and anatomist. This is his most noted work, and is one of the most beautiful anatomical atlases of its time. The first edition was published in 1694 and contained ten illustrative plates. Cowper then spent the years until his death on expanding it for the second edition (1724), of which ours is one copy. It's lavishly illustrated with full- and half-page plates, and intriguing historiated initials (decorative capital letters).

Above: The first page of each section shows a dramatic, Baroque-style figure, and a historiated initial.

Above: Initial letter from the Introduction

Above: Inscription reads, "Gustavus Adolphus Sabini Oct. 10 1829 / Dum vita, spes est"
(where there is life, there is hope)

Cowper is also notorious for publishing The Anatomy of Humane Bodies (1698), which some consider the greatest act of plagiarism in medical publishing!

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