Giulio Cesare Casseri, also known as Casserio, was born in about 1552 in Piacenza. His father died when he was young leaving his family poor, so when he attended medical school at the University of Padua he did so as the servant of another student. Later he was a servant to the noted Fabricius ab Aquapendente (ca. 1533–1619), whose chair in surgery and anatomy Casseri later filled. He was especially known during his lifetime for his research into the anatomy of the speech and auditory organs. In about 1600, he began work on an anatomical atlas covering the entire human body, which he still had not completed at the time of his death in 1616. In fact, it has been conjectured that Fabricius stopped its publication in 1616 because of a rivalry between the two.
Adriaan van de Spiegel, sometimes known as Spigelius, was born in Brussels in 1578. After studying medicine and philosophy in Louvain, he went to the University of Padua to study medicine under Casseri and Fabricius. Becoming an expert in anatomy, surgery, and botany, Spiegel made a name for himself practicing in Germany, Hungary, and Moravia. In 1616, he was appointed to the chair of anatomy and surgery at Padua after Casseri's death, and he died in that city on April 7, 1625.
At the request of Spiegel before his death, a German physician named Daniel Bucretius (d. 1631), also known as Daniel Rindfleisch, edited Spiegel's unillustrated anatomical text, De humani corporis fabrica libri decem. To accompany it, he obtained a group of 78 copperplate engravings which Casseri had created for his unpublished magnum opus, purchasing them from his heirs. One of these plates was destroyed for unknown reasons, but Bucretius had another twenty commissioned using the same artist, Titian's student Odoardo Fialetti (1573-1638), and engraver, Francesco Valesio (b. ca. 1560).
The book itself poses a number of bibliographical challenges in its description. It was published in two volumes with matching engraved title pages. The first volume's title page gives Spiegel as the author and the title De humani corporis fabrica libri decem and consists entirely of text, making no reference to the other volume. The second volume gives Casseri as the author with the title Tabulae anatomicae LXXIIX and consists almost entirely of the 97 plates (not 78 as the title proclaims). Often the volumes are cited as different works, and the book is often recognized as only the work of Casseri, although Bucretius commissioned over a fifth of the images and Spiegel wrote all of the accompanying text.
Biographie nationale ... de Belgique. (Bruxelles: Établissements Émile Bruylant, 1921–1924), v. 23, col. 330-334. (re: Adriaan van de Spiegel)
Choulant, L. History and bibliography of anatomic illustration. Trans. and annotated by Mortimer Frank. (New York: Hafner, 1962), pp. 223-228.
Dizionario biografico degli italiani. (Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1978- ), v. 21, pp. 453-456. (re: Giulio Cesare Casseri)
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. 381.