Historical Anatomies on the Web map Introduction Browse Titles Titles to be Added Historical Anatomies Home History of Medicine Division National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Berengario da Carpi, Jacopo. Isagogae breues, perlucidae ac uberrimae, in anatomiam humani corporis a communi medicorum academia usitatam. (Bologna: Benedictus Hector, 1523).

Jacopo Berengario da Carpi, also known as Jacobus Berengarius Carpensis, Jacopo Barigazzi, or simply Carpus, was born in Carpi, Modena in about 1460, the son of a surgeon. While young, he was a student of the noted printer and editor, Aldus Manutius. He attended medical school in Bologna and later taught surgery at Pavia, and from 1502 to 1527 he was on the faculty at Bologna. At various times, he lived in Ferrara and Rome, where he was one of the first to treat syphilis with mercury. He devoted a great deal of his time to anatomy and prided himself on having dissected several hundred bodies; some of his detractors even accused him of dissecting living bodies on some occasions. Known throughout Italy for his skill, he was called upon to be the Pope's physician, a position he declined. He died in Ferrara in about 1530 having amassed a considerable fortune, which he bequeathed to the Duca Alphonso I of Ferrara, husband of Lucrezia Borgia.

In matters of anatomy, Berengario was devoted to the texts and theories of Mondino dei Luzzi (d. 1326), also known as Mundinus, who relied on Arab physicians for most of his observations, supplemented by a few dissections. Mondino's works were never illustrated, however. But Berengario was an eager and tireless observer, and he is considered to be the author of the first anatomical illustrations made from nature. His first illustrated work was Commentaria cum amplissimis additionibus super anatomiam Mundini, a commentary on Mondino's Anatomia, published in Bologna in 1521. In 1522 and 1523, Berengario released his Isagogae breves, a compendium intended to replace Mondino's work, which it far outshined. Unlike the 1522 edition, the 1523 edition featured here has an extra four illustrations of the heart and two of the brain, with some variations in the woodcuts showing the muscles. It is thought by some that Berengario did not work on these particular illustrations, but it is impossible to be certain. It has also been speculated that the woodcuts in both of Berengario's works were by the artist Hugo da Carpi (1455–1523).

Further Reading:

Choulant, L. History and bibliography of anatomic illustration. Trans. and annotated by Mortimer Frank. (New York: Hafner, 1962). Pp. 136-142.

De Santo, N.G.; Touwaide, A., et al. "Berengario da Carpi." American Journal of Nephrology. 1999;19(2):199-212.

Merlini L, Tomba P, Vigano A. "Berengario da Carpi, a pioneer in anatomy, rediscovered by Vittorio Putti." Neuromuscular Disorders. 2003 Jun; 13(5):421-5.

Morton's Medical Bibliography (Garrison and Morton). Ed. By Jeremy Norman. Fifth ed. Aldershot, Hants, England : Scolar Press ; Brookfield, Vt., USA : Gower Pub. Co., 1991. Nos. 367 and 368.