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Leopoldo Marco Antonio Caldani (1725–1813)

Leopoldo Marco Antonio Caldani (1725–1813)
Icones anatomicae; Iconum anatomicarum explicatio
Venice, 1801-14.
A pupil of Morgagni, Leopoldo Caldani succeeded his professor in the chair of anatomy at Padua, where he was already professor of theoretical medicine. In his later years he was assisted in the publication of his anatomical works by his nephew, Floriano Caldani, also a professor at Padua. Both uncle and nephew did original anatomical work, and according to Choulant-Frank, the Icones Anatomicae contains some original preparations by Floriano, drawn and engraved by Cajetano Bosa. However, for the most part these four large folio volumes of copperplate engravings by Ferdinando de Martiis, Francesco dal Pedro, Pietro Zuliani, Giovanni Battista Torcellano de Murano, Perini, and Butafoco, are the largest collection of engraved reproductions that were ever published in the history of anatomy. "For example, the representations of bones and muscles follow Albinus, the teeth and sexual organs are after John Hunter, the lymphatics after Mascagni, and the pregnant uterus and embryos after William Hunter and Soemmerring. Among the other major anatomists represented are Monro, Scarpa, Cruikshank, Ruysch, Loder, Cotugno, Haller, Sandifort, Santorini, and Camper." (Heirs of Hippocrates 962). The title-page for volume one--a very early example of lithography used for book illustration--includes a landscape with the flaying and opening of a cadaver. To accompany the four volumes of plates the authors wrote five volumes of text, which are not present here.

It took over thirteen years and undoubtedly enormous expense to engrave and print these huge volumes, which for the most part reproduced images that had been published within the previous fifty years. Since some of the original editions of those works would have been obtainable in the early nineteenth century we have to question the motivation of the authors. Perhaps they believed that their engraved reproductions were equal, or even superior, to the originals--a point of view that we do not share today. Most probably their intentions included selecting, organizing, and perhaps systematizing and presenting in one large, if not necessarily convenient package what they considered the best available anatomical knowledge.

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