Charles Estienne, or Carolus Stephanus, was born in Paris about 1504, the third son of Henri Estienne, the founder of the famous printing dynasty. Having received an excellent education in his family's home, he showed an early talent in medicine and trained as a physician. When his brother, the noted printer Robert, was forced to move to Geneva in 1550 because of his controversial theological publications, Charles took over the Paris business. Through the press he wrote and published a number of notable works in medicine, agriculture, and classics, including L'Agriculture et Maison Rustique (1554) and Thesaurus Ciceronianus (1557). The business side of the press failed, however, and by the end of the decade he was imprisoned for debts in the Châtelet, where he died about 1564.
Charles Estienne took an early and avid interest in anatomical dissection and began preparing a monumental anatomical text in the 1530s with surgeon, anatomist, and artist Étienne de la Rivière (d. 1569). A majority of the work was complete by 1539 with woodcuts by the famed Jean “Mercure” Jollat (fl. 1530–1545), but Estienne and La Rivière began a feud from which a lawsuit ensued. De dissectione partium corporis humani libri tres was eventually published in 1545 by the press of Simon de Colines, a close associate of the Estienne family, and a French translation, La dissection des parties du corps humaine, was published the following year. Had the work come out in 1539 as originally planned, it may have eclipsed many of the notable firsts which Vesalius’ De fabrica garnered with its publication in 1543. For an unknown reason, many of the woodcuts were obviously altered before printing, sometimes in a very crude fashion.
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