We owe a great debt to Jean Baptiste Marc Bourgery (1797–1849) for his Atlas of Anatomy, which was not only a massive event in medical history but also remains one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated anatomical treatises ever published.
Bourgery began work on his magnificent atlas in 1830 in cooperation with illustrator Nicolas Henri Jacob (1782–1871), a student of the French painter Jacques Louis David. The first volumes were published the following year, but completion of the treatise required nearly two decades of dedication; Bourgery lived just long enough to finish his labor of love, but the last of the treatise’s eight volumes was not published in its entirety until five years after his death.
The eight volumes of Bourgery’s treatise cover descriptive anatomy, surgical anatomy and techniques (exploring in detail nearly all the major operations that were performed during the first half of the 19th century), general anatomy and embryology, and microscopic anatomy. Jacob’s spectacular hand-colored, life-size lithographs are remarkable for their clarity, color, and aesthetic appeal, reflecting a combination of direct laboratory observation and illustrative research. Unsurpassed to this day, the images offer exceptional anatomical insight, not only for those in the medical field but also for artists, students, and anyone interested in the workings and wonder of the human body.
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