The Public Domain Review

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Accuracy and Elegance in Cheselden’s Osteographia (1733)

Monday 22 August 2011 at 22:54

With its novel vignettes and its use of a camera obscura in the production of the plates, William Cheselden’s Osteographia, is recognized as a landmark in the history of anatomical illustration. Monique Kornell looks at its unique blend of accuracy and elegance.

A lavishly illustrated and particularly elegant book of human and comparative osteology in large folio size, Osteographia, or the Anatomy of the Bones, was published in London in 1733 by William Cheselden (1688-1752). However highly it is esteemed today, it was a financial failure for its author, unlike his earlier, less expensive and more general work, The Anatomy of the Humane Body (1713), which went through numerous editions.

Cheselden, a successful surgeon based in London, first won fame for his perfection of the lateral method of lithotomy, or “cutting for the stone”. At the time of publication of the Osteographia, he was already well established in his career. Surgeon to Queen Caroline, to whom the book is dedicated, he was also a Fellow of the Royal Society, surgeon at St. Thomas’s hospital and the first foreign member of the newly founded Royal Academy of Surgery in Paris.

Work was under way for the Osteographia already by 1726 when Cheselden states in the preface to the Anatomy of the Human Body that he would have replaced illustrations from the first edition:

if I had not been so much engaged about an Osteology in which every plate is twenty one inches long, and fifteen broad. All the bones will be done so large as the life, and the bones of the limbs and trunk, with sceletons as large as the plates will admit of; And besides these there will be some plates of the cartilages, ligaments and diseased bones; and every chapter will have a distinct head-piece and tail-piece, which will be chiefly made of the sceletons of different animals.

The Osteographia eventually appeared in 1733 with a double set of plates, 56 lettered and 56 unlettered, “to shew them in their full beauty” (ch. 8). Part of the delay was that the initial drawings for the plates were abandoned when Cheselden, in his desire for the greatest accuracy in the rendering of the skeleton, had his artists, Gerard Vandergucht and Jacob Schijnvoet, employ a camera obscura, the use of which is illustrated in a vignette on the title page. As described in chapter VIII, the artist drew upon a roughened glass set six inches inside; a sliding lens allowed him to adjust the scale. The resulting image was then traced on to paper. Many of the preparatory drawings survive in the collection of the Royal Academy, London.

Camera obscura vignette, Title page, Osteographia, 1733

In the production of the plates, Cheselden took a markedly active role. He chose the poses for the skeletons and oversaw each stage of the production, stepping in when necessary to correct both drawings and plates: “where particular parts needed to be more distinctly expressed on account of the anatomy, there I always directed; sometimes in the drawings with the pencil, and often with the needle upon the copper plate.” Cheselden was also attuned to the different effects that could be brought about in the engraving, and he comments that the use of unhatched, single lines to evoke the smoothness of the ends of the bones “was also my contriving”. Cheselden’s close involvement in making the plates and his desire for accuracy through mechanical means, as well as in the great expense incurred, parallel the contemporaneous efforts of the Dutch anatomist, Bernhard Siegfried Albinus, who had his artist, Jan Wandelaar, view anatomical preparations through a grid system of ropes.

An early influence upon Cheselden’s attention to illustration was the surgeon and anatomist William Cowper, with whom Cheselden resided while studying anatomy. Cowper was also a remarkable draftsman and provided illustrations for his own works and those of others. Cheselden then attended the first St Martin’s Lane Academy of Art in 1720 and would himself later contribute accomplished plates for his addendum to the translation of Le Dran’s Operations in Surgery (London 1749).

Much of the charm of the Osteographia lies with the vignettes of the animal skeletons, which are frequently depicted in lifelike poses. A cat with an arched back is startled by a dog; a young, antlered deer stops suddenly and turns to the viewer; a crane picks up a fish with its beak, yielding the conceit of a skeleton bird seeking nourishment from the bones of a fish. Cheselden’s comment concerning the skeleton of a bear indicates the care he took in the poses of the animal skeletons: “This skeleton being put together with stiff wires, I could not alter it into a properer posture” (ch. VIII). The pose of the chameleon skeleton, set on a branch with its tail wrapped around a twig, seen at the head of the fifth chapter, was adapted from an illustration first published by Charles Perrault in 1669.

The inventiveness seen in the vignettes is likewise found in the decorated initials and the plates of entire human skeletons. Inspired by the meditative skeletons of Vesalius, Cheselden offers a lateral view of a skeleton kneeling in prayer (Tab. XXXVI), the pose chosen in order “to represent the figure in a larger scale.” In the Anatomy of the Human Body of 1740, the figure has been adapted for Tab. X and is shown with his arms tied behind his back.

Skeleton praying, tab XXXVI, Osteographia, 1733, and Skeleton bound, tab. X, The Anatomy of the Human Body, 1740

The influence of Vesalius is also evident in the low-set Italianate landscape seen in some of the full-size skeleton plates, such as Tab. XXXII. Here the viewpoint manages to confer a monumental sense of scale to the skeleton of a year-and-a-half-old child, who is shown walking toward the viewer while brandishing an adult humerus. This bone serves as a comparison of scale but fails, nevertheless, to dwarf the skeleton in any way. The print that follows offers a comparison of scale and of species as well, as a skeleton of a boy of nine years is seen leaning against the skull of a horse, almost half his height. The frontal views of a male and a female skeletons are both after classical statues, the Apollo Belvedere and the Medici Venus. Cheselden has altered the pose of the latter, turning her head and placing her left arm out to the side rather than in the original “pudica” position, thus allowing for a better view of the pelvic bones.

Skeleton of a year-and-a-half-old child holding an adult humerus, tab. XXXII, and Skeleton of a 9-year-old child leaning on a horse's skull, tab. XXXII

In addition to developmental plates of the bones, there are several excellent plates with cross-sections of the bones and depicting cartilages and ligaments. The seventh chapter and the last nine plates of the book are devoted to diseased bones, dealing with cases from Cheselden’s own practice and those of his colleagues. The preparation of the bones of the left arm, showing a congenital ankylosis of the elbow joint, which was sent to Cheselden by “Mr Goodwin” and survives today in the Hunterian Museum, London, is depicted in Tab. LXV, fig. 2. The fused “crooked skeleton” of Tab. XLIII is described as having been “dug out of a grave”.

In the Osteographia as well as in his other works, Cheselden favored a reliance on the image for elucidation rather than lengthy description: “I thought it useless to make long descriptions, one view of such prints shewing more than the fullest and best description can possibly do” (Address to the Reader). For example, in discussing the intricate bones of the foot he concludes the fifth chapter by saying that “for what remains see the plate, which makes a farther description needless”. The brevity of the text is certainly one valid criticism of the many made by John Douglas, a rival lithotomist, in his querulous pamphlet, Animadversions on a late pompous book, intituled, Osteographia…by William Cheselden (London 1735). Curiously, his brother James Douglas, the anatomist and physician, was a valued friend and collaborator of Cheselden’s.

The brevity of the text, the decorative vignettes and the luxurious production of the Osteographia was aimed at attracting a wealthy, general audience for the book. It is for this same potential market that Cheselden had earlier designed a course of anatomy, given with Francis Hawksbee, which was advertised in The Daily Courant of 21 March 1721 as, “chiefly intended for Gentlemen, Such Things only will be omitted as are neither Instructive nor Entertaining and Care will be taken to have nothing Offensive.”

From an advertisement in Cheselden’s Anatomy of 1740, we learn that only 97 of the 300 copies of the Osteographia printed had been sold. In an attempt to recoup his expenses, 83 of the remaining copies were cut apart so that the prints could be sold separately. In addition, 100 prints had been struck for a projected Latin or French edition. Some of these were used for an undated edition of the unlettered plates, issued without the text.

The plates of the Osteographia are magnificent and worthy of their fame. They are of a far finer quality than the crude depictions of skeletons, originally made for James Douglas, that appeared in Cheselden’s first edition of his Anatomy of 1713. Cheselden’s original plan, laid out in To the Reader, was for a three-volume work on human anatomy, all similarly decorated with plates of comparative anatomy. It is regrettable that the Osteographia did not meet with the financial success necessary to allow the completion of the project.


(All images are in the public domain, courtesy of the National Library of Medicine)




Monique Kornell (Ph.D. Warburg Institute) is an independent scholar of anatomical illustration and of the study of anatomy by artists. She has written on works from the 16th to the 19th centuries and has previously published on Cheselden’s Osteographia in the catalogue to the exhibition she co-curated, The Ingenious Machine of Nature: Four Centuries of Art and Anatomy, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1996, pp. 190-193.


Links to works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/22/accuracy-and-elegance-in-cheseldens-osteographia-1733/


Aiaihea – The Hawaiian Quintette (1913)

Monday 22 August 2011 at 16:52



Tropical track from the Hawaiian Quintent. More songs of theirs can be streamed from the Library of Congress National Jukebox site

MP3 Download
Internet Archive Link



Beela Boola by the Electric City 4 (1920)

Hungarian Rag - Pietro Deiro (1913)

As a Porcupine Pines for its Pork - Billy Jones & Ernest Hare
(1925)

Popeye, the Sailor Man - Al Dollar & His Ten Cent Band with Billy Murray (1931)

Chopins Funeral March - The Edison Concert Band (1906)

Houdini on his Water Torture Cell (1914)

Lomax Collection Recording of English, Sample 8

Enrico Caruso - A Dream (1920)

La Paloma (1903)

Orson Welles Show (1941)

Tokyo Rose (1944)

Fats Waller and His Orchestra live at The Yacht Club (1938)

Very early recording of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (1924)

Rudolph Valentino singing (1923)

Aiaihea - The Hawaiian Quintette (1913)

Antony's Address Over The Body of Caesar (1914)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/22/aiaihea-the-hawaiian-quintette-1913/


The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

Sunday 21 August 2011 at 12:44



Early Alfred Hitchcock film starring Ivor Novello, based on a story by Marie Belloc Lowndes and a play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes, concerning the hunt for a serial killer in London. According to Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto the film is “the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death.” The film also features Hitchcock’s first recognizable film cameo, something which was to become a standard practice for the remainder of his films.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25 secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/21/the-lodger-a-story-of-the-london-fog-1927/


Scarlet Street (1945)

Sunday 21 August 2011 at 12:29



Widely regarded as one of Fritz Lang’s best films, Scarlet Street is based on the French novel La Chienne (The Bitch) by Georges de La Fouchardière. Somewhere between film noir and black comedy, the plot revolves around a man in mid-life crisis who befriends a young woman whose fiancé persuades her to con him out of some of the fortune she thinks he has.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25 secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/21/scarlet-street-1945/


Are You Popular? (1947)

Sunday 21 August 2011 at 12:17



One of the best examples of post-World War II social guidance films – jam-packed full of useful tips. From the Prelinger Archives.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25 secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/21/are-you-popular-1947/


Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901)

Sunday 21 August 2011 at 11:47



A naughty little skit from 1901 filmed by the Edison company.

Download from Internet Archive



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25 secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/21/trapeze-disrobing-act-1901/


The Last American

Friday 19 August 2011 at 19:34


The Last American, a fragment from the journal of Khan-Li, by J. A. Mitchell; 1889; Frederick A. Stokes, New York.

Short future history novel from John Ames Mitchell (1845–1918). First published in 1889, it is the fictional journal of Persian admiral Khan-Li, who in the year 2951 rediscovers North America by sailing across the Atlantic.

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/19/the-last-american/


The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Friday 19 August 2011 at 18:56

Plates from Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne’s ‘Mécanisme de la Physionomie Humaine’, published by Jules Renouard, Paris, in 1862. By applying electrodes to male and female volunteers, Duchenne was able to activate individual muscles in the face. He saw the human face as a map, the features of which could be codified into universal taxonomies of inner states, with each muscle representing a ‘movement of the soul’. He listed 53 emotions that could be classified in terms of muscular action. (Photos from the National Media Museum via Flickr Commons)






Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/19/the-mechanism-of-human-physiognomy/


Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

Tuesday 16 August 2011 at 12:34

Selection of images from “Landscape and marine views of Norway” (ca.1890-1900), a set in the Library of Congress’ Photochrom Prints Collection (via Flickr Commons). Photochrom prints are colorized images produced from black-and-white photographic negatives via the direct photographic transfer of a negative onto lithographic limestone printing plates, with each colour tint applied using a separate stone bearing the appropriate retouched image. The finished print is produced using at least six, but more commonly from 10 to 15, tint stones. A very popular method at the turn of the century.










Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/16/landscape-and-marine-views-of-norway/


The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

Monday 15 August 2011 at 18:33


The Danger of Premature Interment, by Joseph Taylor; 1816; W. Simpkin and R. Marshall, London.

“The Danger of Premature Interment proved from many remarkable instances of people who have recovered after being laid out for dead, and of others entombed alive, for want of being properly examined prior to interment. Also a description of the manner the ancient Egyptians, and other nations preserved and venerated their dead, and a curious account of their sepulchral ever burning lamps and mausoleums. Likewise the pernicious effects of burying in the body of churches, and confined church yards pointed out, whereby many valuable lives have been lost to the public, and their friends.”

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/08/15/the-danger-of-premature-interment-1816/