Annibal Caro's After-Dinner Speech (1536) and the Question of Titian as Vesalius's Illustrator


Putative textual proof for Titian's central involvement in producing illustrations for Vesalius's anatomy book De fabrica (1543) requires reexamination. On the basis of orthographic, literary, and historical evidence, a phrase in Annibal Caro's after-dinner speech, here dated to 1536, is shown instead to refer ironically to a surgeon's notorious execution in 1517. Anatomia was a word in the satirical as well as the medical lexicon. It is important to understand the satirical tone of Caro's speech about a priapic statuette. Delivered during Carnival to the Roman Academy of Virtue, the speech respects neither antiquities nor artists like Michelangelo in its obscene humor.