Paris: C. de Lasteyrie, 1823-26. The Double Elephant Folio of Anatomy [Mascagni, Paolo (1752-1815).] Antommarchi, Francesco (1789-1838), ed. Planches anatomiques du corps humain executes d’aprčs les dimensions naturelles . . . Double elephant folio atlas. Lithographed part-title leaf, title leaf and 83 lithographed plates (48 black and white, 35 outline) by Charles-Philibert de Lasteyrie (1759-1849), all leaves folded and mounted on guards. Paris: C. de Lasteyrie, [1823-] 1826. 623 x 509 mm. (individual leaves measure 907 x 623 mm. / 35.6875 x 24.5 inches unfolded). 20th century half morocco, paste paper boards, light wear. Discreet repairs to margins of part-title, minor occasional foxing, but very good. Considering that it is among the rarest of all anatomies, and certainly the largest, it is remarkable that two nearly identical editions of Mascagni’s posthumous life-size anatomy were published almost simultaneously. The present lithographed edition was issued between 1823 and 1826. An edition with engraved plates was also published in Pisa under the title Anatomia universa (1823-32). Though the two editions were printed by different processes, the image quality of the two is remarkably similar and it is debatable which is superior from either the artistic or scientific standpoint. Antommarchi’s version, in an homage to Vesalius, includes imaginary landscape backgrounds created for the base of his musclemen; these do not appear in the Italian edition. There are other subtle differences. Antommarchi included letter keys within the images of some of the less-complex plates, eliminating the need for outline plates to those images. He also published more anatomical plates than the Italian edition. The publication history of these two editions is complex and usually misunderstood. The edition we are offering was issued in 15 parts between 1823 and 1826 by the lithographic press of the Comte de Lasteyrie, one of the two founders of lithography in France (an accompanying text volume, not present with this copy, was issued in 1826 and bears the imprint of Lasteyrie’s successor, R. Brégeaut). The atlas, with magnificent plates printed on single broadsheets measuring 970 x 650 mm. uncut, is comparable in size to the double elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-38), which measures about 985 x 660 mm. It is without doubt the largest lithographically printed book issued during the incunabula period of lithography. The atlas was issued in both uncolored and colored versions; according to the part-title included with this copy, uncolored fascicles sold for 30 francs each and colored ones for 80 francs each. Choulant, writing in the 1840s when copies of both editions might have remained available from the publishers, states that copies of the completed version with colored plates could be purchased for 150 francs and uncolored copies for 375 francs. Because the plates are so large, in some extant copies of the atlas they are backed with linen and cut for folding with some resulting loss of image. This is not the case here: Each plate is folded horizontally and mounted on a guard, preserving the entire image. (Inventory #: 43552)
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