De Humani Corporis Fabrica 2
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Call Number ASL 611 V63a.)

Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica (on the fabric of the human body) was first published in 1543. It demonstrated a major leap forward in the work of medicine and anatomy. The accuracy of the text’s illustrations is attributed to the use of cadavers for dissection by Vesalius for true-to-life depictions. Posing the bodies as if alive or pondering in thought emphasizes the fugitive nature of life itself while providing allegory to what could have been dry and analytical scientific texts. Some have attributed these poses to the sullied backgrounds of the cadavers themselves, noting that many of them were at least poor and destitute, if not outright criminals or the executed.