Author: Johannes de Ketham
Publisher: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, Venice, February 5, 1493
Printed book with woodcut illustrations, one of which, The Dissection, has been colored (either with stencils or by hand–pressed color blocks) in four colors (recently rebound); 16 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. (41.9 x 29.8 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1938 (38.52)
This book, a compendium of medical knowledge associated with the obscure author Johannes de Ketham, combines ancient and medieval medical traditions with Renaissance innovations. The original text, in Latin, was printed in Venice in 1491 with six schematic illustrations derived from centuries-old conventions; this volume, the Italian translation, was published almost three years later with four additional woodblock plates that reflect the influence of Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna, among the most original artists of the period.
The most famous of the added illustrations, colored in the Museum's copy, depicts a dissection carried out in the contemporary manner. The corpse is laid out on a trestle table disposed across the picture space, and the dissector leans over it with a huge knife; his short garment differentiates him from the other men present, who wear august robes and stand upright. The lecturer presides serenely over the scene from a pulpitlike booth above, looking out at the viewer rather than at the corpse.