One of the most renowned and beautiful of all medical books, Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica revolutionized the teaching of anatomy. Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish anatomist, believed that the body could only properly be examined through dissection and promoted the study of human anatomy in a series of layers—from the bones of the skeleton, through the muscles, blood vessels, and nervous system, to the organs and, finally, the brain. This series of layers is examined systematically in the text of the seven books of the Fabrica.
This first edition of the Fabrica is one of four copies held by the Countway Library. Prominent neurologist and historian, Henry Rouse Viets (1890-1969) credited his first sight of this particular copy—opened by Dr. Harvey Cushing "as gently as an obstetrician with a new-born babe"—with inspiring his interest in the history of medicine.