Calcar, Stephen van (Netherlandish, 1499-1546/50)

Illustration of Muscle-Man For Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica (“On the Structure of the Human Body”)

Reference Type:
Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), was a Flemish physician from a family of physicians and pharmacists. He studied at the Catholic University of Leuven, where the influence of Arab medicine was dominant; the University of Paris medical school, where he had the opportunity to perform both animal and human dissections; and the University of Padua, which was also strong in anatomical dissection. In Padua he received his M.D. degree and was appointed lecturer in surgery and professor of anatomy. This post included the presentation of anatomical demonstrations, the results of which contradicted Galenic anatomy, which had been the authority since ancient Roman times. Vesalius’ most famous publication is De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (“The Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body”), commonly known as the Fabrica, which was printed in Basel in 1543. Artist Stephen van Calcar, who was studying in Venice with the famous master Titian, created drawings based on Vesalius’ dissections. The Fabrica, which described the human body in a level of detail never seen before, turned anatomy into a scientific discipline and paved the way for the evolution of modern medicine. One of the most famous aspects of the Fabrica are the drawings known as “Muscle-Men.” In order to show muscle function in the most informative way, the figures are represented in motion. They are also placed in realistic settings—in the background van Calcar represented the countryside near Padua, Italy. Notes by Mariann Smith
History of Medicine
U. S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda