Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bernard Siegfried Albinus and his Anatomic Works

Bernhard Siegfried Albinus:
Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani.
London 1749.
On September 9, 1770, German anatomist Bernard Siegfried Albinus passed away. He was the first to show the connection of the vascular systems of the mother and the fetus. He is best known for the excellent drawings in his Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani (1747; “Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body”).

Bernard Siegfried Weiss was born in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Already his father was professor for medical science at the local university and was offered a new position in Leiden. The young Bernard Siegfried Weiss, who later on called himself 'Albinus', was very well educated in Leiden and excelled in his studies. He was allowed to enter the university at the age of 12. Albinus finished  his education in Leiden around 1718 and moved to Paris in order to study anatomy and botany. However, Albinus was told to return to Leiden one year later in order to start his position as teacher of anatomy and surgery. Also, the scientist received his doctoral degree in the same year.

After the death of his father, Albinus was appointed professor at Leiden and  he became one of the best known and most appreciated teachers in the field of anatomy in Europe. During his time in Leiden, Albinus came in contact with Jan Wandelaar, an artist and engraver. It was this collaboration and the art of Jan Wandelaar which have made Albinus’ books and illustration famous. Even though Albinus was often criticized for the luscious, detailed, and sometimes strange backgrounds of his anatomical images, the scientist defended the extraordinary art work of Wandelaar.

Both dedicated their professional career to the  faithful reproduction of anatomy in their publications, developing a grid system to reduce errors in production and printing. To Albinus' most famous publications belong “Historia muscolorum hominis”  from 1734,  “Icones ossium foetus humani” from 1737, and “Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani” from 1749.

Albinus received numerous offers to start teaching and researching across Europe, but always stayed in Leiden. He was elected to join the Royal Society in 1764 and passed away six years later.

At yovisto, you may be interested in the Anatomy lecture by Professor Meighan at Berkeley.



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