251 drawings from the Dutch Golden Age by Johannes Van Horne and Marten Sagemolen
In 1656, in Amsterdam, Rembrandt painted his second Anatomy lesson. At the same time, in Leiden, in the Netherlands Golden Age that was brimming with artistic and scientific innovations, anatomy professor Johannes Van Horne and artist Marten Sagemolen were working on an unprecedented anatomical atlas of the muscles in color. Although it remained unpublished, the European intelligentsia celebrated this work. Then, strangely enough, these drawings fell into oblivion in the course of the 18th century.
Four large volumes comprising 251 drawings, systematically organized in several series and constituting a large part of this anatomical atlas, have just been identified in the collection of the BIU Santé (Health Inter-University Library).
The Library is now unveiling this jewel, which should be of major interest to both historians of medicine and sciences and historians of art.
Identification was made by Hans Buijs (Fondation Custodia, Paris) on Friday, June 17, 2016. One single sentence found in the margin of a drawing dated 1654 revealed the name of the artist, but also, with absolute certainty, that of his patron, as well as important pieces of information on the constitution of the collection.
The very same sentence is indeed featured in the notes of famous physician Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), one of the former owners of these volumes. Tim Huisman, in his doctoral dissertation in 2008, The Finger of God, Anatomical Practice in 17th-Century Leiden (Leiden University, 2008. p. 73 sq), published and documented these fragments. After examination of the four manuscripts under this bright new light, there can be no doubt whatsoever on their identity.
We publish an article that establishes the authenticity of the documents, gives part of their history, and provides an inventory of the four volumes. The article is subject to modifications: potential corrected versions will be available from the present column, at the same address.
Download the article: Johannes Van Horne and Marten Sagemolen’s myology: Four volumes of anatomical drawings of the Golden Age rediscovered
at the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de santé (Paris), by Jean-François Vincent and Chloé Perrot (final version, August 31, 2016. License CC By-SA 4.0)