Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa

Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa Facsimile Edition

Lindau (Germany) — 1559

Differentiating scientific medicine from charlatans and quacks in 1559: the treatment of eye diseases such as cataracts and many other operable conditions based on the author's own practice in an elaborately illustrated medical textbook

  1. Caspar Stromayr (d. 1566/67) practiced medicine as a surgeon and ophthalmologist in Lindau

  2. His 1559 textbook is one of the earliest and most splendidly adorned works concerning ophthalmology

  3. The paper manuscript is illustrated by artful yet accurate miniatures with a wonderfully rich color palette

Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa

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Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa

Caspar Stromayr was a surgeon and ophthalmologist who practiced in the city of Lindau on Lake Constance and whose groundbreaking surgical textbook from 1559 left a lasting impression on early modern medicine. His progressive textbook primarily addressed hernia surgery and related procedures but also includes a section with one of the earliest ophthalmological works written in the German language. This section addresses ailments such as cataracts and recommends treatments while vigorously criticizing the incompetence and charlatanism of his contemporary ophthalmologists. The paper manuscript is illustrated by artful yet accurate miniatures created with a wonderfully rich color palette, making it one of the earliest and most splendidly adorned work of its type. It remained unbound after the death of Stromayr and was acquired by the city of Lindau in 1577, at which point it was finally bound, but in the wrong order with some texts interlocked. After falling into oblivion for centuries, the work was rediscovered in 1909 and was republished in 1925.


Size / Format
588 pages / 20.0 x 28.5 cm
Many colored illustrations in plates
Textbook of surgery and ophthalmology
Artist / School
Detail Picture

Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa

Lancing an Abscess

Although the treatment of hernias is the primary topic of this book, related procedures are also depicted, in this case the incision and draining of an abscess. While the surgeon and his assistants are depicted with looks of concern and concentration, the patient has a serene expression of relief on his face, a feeling that is known by anyone who has ever had a boil lanced. Each of the figures has distinct, individualized facial features that are accentuated by skillful shading.

Single Page

Caspar Strohmayr - Practica Copiosa

Author Portrait

Caspar Stromayr (d. 1566/67), who was born into a family of surgeons in Augsburg, is the author of this richly illustrated surgical manual, but also wrote one of the earliest works on ophthalmology in the German language. In it, he describes possible causes and options for the treatment of cataracts while decrying the charlatanism of contemporary ophthalmologists.

Stormayr’s portrait makes the reason for his interest in ophthalmology: an otherwise handsome young man dressed in a blue shirt and lace collar with curly brown hair, high cheekbones, and a dimpled chin has an abnormal left eye, which is swollen, red, and has a large cataract over its lens. Despite his affliction, the talented surgeon looks calmly and confidently out from the page.

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