KETHAM, Johannes de.

Fasciculus medicinae.

(Add: Petrus de Tussignano: Consilium pro peste evitanda; Mundinus: Anatomia. Ed: Petrus Andreas Morsianus.)

Venice : Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 15 Oct. 1495 Stock Code: 147446
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Among the first modern medical prints

Second Latin edition. First published in Latin in 1491, Ketham's Fasciculus medicinae was then issued in Italian in 1493 with a new set of woodcuts which quickly became popular and celebrated. These new woodcuts marked an important step forward in medical illustration, the human figures and their anatomy becoming much more representational and realistic. Accordingly they are regarded as among the first modern medical prints.

Four of the woodcuts show scenes of medical practice including a medical consultation and a portrait of Petrus de Montagnana surrounded by his science books (Aristotle, Hippocrates, etc.) and there are five anatomical figures including a "Zodiac Man", a bloodletting man and a pregnant woman with the anatomy of her womb shown in detail.

In 1495 the book was republished in Latin but including the 1493 woodcuts with the exception of the tenth cut (showing Mundinus lecturing on anatomy while a dead body is opened up) which was copied from the 1493 edition (where it was printed in colour) and newly cut. It is based on a collection of medical tracts on subjects such as anatomy, surgery, epidemiology, urology, obstetrics, gynaecology and herbal remedies some of which date to the 13th century.

"Johannes de Ketham" has been identified as Hans von Kircheim of Swabia (fl. 1455-1470), professor of medicine in Vienna, who used this collection for his lectures and recommended it to his pupils. The artist is unknown; PMM describes the woodcuts as having been "designed by an artist of the first rank". Praised by Hind as the "greatest piece of illustration in the classic style in XVth-century Venetian books", the designs were attributed by him to Gentile Bellini, an attribution that has since been modified to the school of Bellini.

Provenance: Royal Academy of Arts. Sold by the RA at Sotheby's for 8,400 in 1966 to the Bibliotheca Lindesiana.

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Folio (313 x 210 mm). Bound in 20th-century brown half morocco, marbled paper covered boards, marbled endpapers, spine lettered in gilt with title, author's name, and, at foot, the letters R.A.


40 leaves, unpaginated. Gothic and Roman letter, double columns, 53 lines. 10 full-page woodcut illustrations.


Some contemporary marginal manuscript notes in black ink. All but 2 of the cuts partially coloured with red and grey ink in a contemporary hand, some initials with contemporary red hand-colouring, grey ink covering the genitals in the 6 woodcuts that depict them, some woodcuts shaved at upper margin only occasionally affecting border line. Overall, a very good copy.


Goff K14; Norman 1211; Norman (1995) 10; Printing and the Mind of Man 36 (1st illustrated ed.)


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