Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)

Born Andries van Wesel, Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish physician, and is widely considered to be the founder of modern anatomy. Until Vesalius, doctors and surgeons largely learnt anatomy from classical texts. These included, most significantly, the work of Galen, who had lived 13 centuries before Vesalius. He was shocked to discover that most of Galen’s understanding of anatomy was based, almost solely, on research with animals, since dissection of humans was not permitted in ancient Rome. Vesalius realised that a full understanding of human anatomy could only be reached by dissecting human bodies, and fortunately lived in a time when this was becoming permissible.

Vesalius is best known for his book De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the fabric of the human body), which presents beautiful illustrations of the the various systems and structures of the human body. The full body images in the book are posed in real life situations.  His image of the skeleton, for example, stands resting on the handle of a shovel, with mountains in the background, and a glimpse of the grave that has just been dug.

See all our designs based on his artwork.


Biographical article by Chris Wright of Curiosity Wave, published 1 February 2018.