The world’s largest collection of sixteenth-century anatomical prints, or ‘fugitive sheets’ has been digitized and is available online, thanks to the Wellcome Library. There are nineteen prints with pop-up action allowing the reader to see different organ systems in the order of dissection. In this male and female set you can see both still images and video of the flaps being lifted—brilliant! (I do wish that more of the entries offered stills, since the video is cool but it’s hard to get a detailed view of the different layers.)
I’m in the process of looking through all these, but I’m especially intrigued by this one. Can you guess who’s making an unauthorized celebrity cameo? It’s Vesalius’s head on that body, copied from his full-page portrait in the Fabrica. Right next to an organ (on the right) taken from the same book. Vesalius spent a great deal of energy, even prior to publication, in trying to forestall the plagiarism of his work. I doubt, though, that even he imagined his own head would end up on a perpetually-being-dissected body. One has to wonder about the motives of the artist—an ironic joke at the great dissector’s expense?
Here’s the original portrait for comparison: