Anatomia depicta

Anatomia depicta Facsimile Edition

Italy — 1565–1589

Large format and in color: a fascinating insight into the medicine of the 16th century with 71 realistic anatomical representations of the human body

  1. This testimonial to the development of medicine during the 16th century was composed by Filippo Cavriani

  2. Filippo Cavriani was a doctor who was active in France and Tuscany during the second half of the 16th century

  3. The historic treasure was discovered in the mid-18th century in the collection of Giovanni Giraldi (1504–73)

Anatomia depicta

Nuove Accessioni 329 (Grandi Formati 64) Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Anatomia depicta

This impressive testimonial to the development of medicine during the 16th century is stored in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze after being rediscovered in the mid-18th century: a codex of 292 pages in the considerable format of 56.3 x 42.3 cm. The Latin text constitutes an anatomical handbook with descriptions in French and Italian and reflects the cutting edge of contemporary knowledge concerning human anatomy. It was composed by Filippo Cavriani, a gifted doctor from Mantua who was active in Tuscany and France during the second half of the 16th century, including in the service of Catherine de’ Medici, the Queen of France. 71 expertly designed and masterfully executed watercolor miniatures including many full-page depictions give the beholder an intimate and detailed look inside the human body in the full splendor of the Italian Renaissance.

Anatomia depicta

Originally from Mantua, Filippo Cavrani was a doctor who was active in France and Tuscany during the second half of the 16th century. Furthermore, Cavriani also operated at the court of Catherine de' Medici in Paris. As a gifted doctor, he recorded this grandiose testimony to his enthusiasm for his profession in the years 1565 to 1589: a comprehensive anatomical overview with detailed depictions of the body’s operating principles.

Medical Observations in Artistic Depictions

The manuscript consists of 71 anatomical tables. In doing so, one always finds an anatomical depiction with descriptions in French and Italian on the right page, and a corresponding descriptive and clarifying text on the verso. The large-format depictions are gorgeously water-colored and are consequently worth a closer look not only from a scientific perspective. The human body is presented here in anatomical depictions, which are so wonderfully drawn with various colors and great artistic ability that the depictions radiate a special aesthetic.

An Important Codex for the History of Medicine

The codex is an impressive testimonial of its time: the hierarchical supremacy of doctors over surgeons was overturned in the course of the 16th century. In the manuscript, the connection between anatomical and pathological structures are depicted inter alia. In impressive realism, individual tables show e.g. the connections between the individual organs, the course of the blood vessels in the human body, the heart, or the esophagus. The doctor and librarian Giovanni Targioni discovered the historic treasure around the middle of the 18th century in the collection of Giovanni Giraldi, a member of one of the famous Florentine families with a significant library.


Size / Format
292 pages / 56.3 × 42.3 cm
71 full-page anatomical plates
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Giraldi family

Available facsimile editions:
Anatomia depicta – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Rome, 2010
Limited Edition: 199 copies
Detail Picture

Anatomia depicta

Study of the Foot

A human foot – a left foot to be exact – is shown with the skin entirely removed so that the musculature, tendons, and ligaments of the foot can be detailed. The tibia, the larger of the bones of the lower leg, is also shown coming down and joining with the metatarsals, the bones of the foot. Interestingly, the large toe is shown relaxed and extended, while the rest of the toes are curled as though the person they belong to were trying to gain some traction or regain balance.

Anatomia depicta
Single Page

Anatomia depicta

Interior View of the Abdomen

The organs of the digestive tract are displayed in this magnificent watercolor, which also depicts the manner in which a cadaver was opened up for study and instruction to the audience of the operating theater. Differences in color between the organs have been somewhat exaggerated in order to make them distinguishable from one another.

What is perhaps more impressive than the depiction of this deceased man’s innards is the idealistic form of his outer appearance. It is a muscular physique with a well-developed chest, arms and shoulders. This musculature is emphasized with subtle shading that indicates a light source, likely a window, to the left of the specimen depicted here. Art and science are magnificently united in this fine miniature.

Anatomia depicta
Facsimile Editions

#1 Anatomia depicta

Limited Edition: 199 copies
Binding: Dark olive green leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Carlo Maria Ossola
Language: Italien
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). All folios are cut according to the original. The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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