The Illustrious Anatomist: Authorship, Patronage, and Illustrative Style in Anatomy Folios, 1700–1840


A number of anatomists working in the period 1700–1840 used expensive illustrated books to depict their greatest scientific work, establish priority of discovery for posterity, and enlist patrons. These anatomists drew on the grand traditions of anatomical illustration and asserted their right to a place within that history. But with artists mediating the expression of anatomists’ vision, it was important that an anatomist assert his control over the illustrations commemorating his expertise. Anatomists used stylistic signatures to signal that a work was their own. Very different styles of illustration in the works of different anatomists, therefore, were made easily recognizable, and sometimes a single artist adopted notably different styles for different anatomists who employed him. Style became a marker of authorship, identifiable with the anatomist, even when he employed an artist to do the drawing and engraving, and it was also an important method of appealing to patrons.