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Guido Guidi Issues a Spectacular Book of Renaissance Surgery and Graphic Arts


From the press operated by Pierre Gautier in the Paris castle of Benevenuto Cellini, Italian physician Guido Guidi (Vidius Vidius) issued Chirurgia è graeco in latinum conversa . . . .  The elegantly printed and illustrated small folio included 210 text woodcuts, most probably after drawings by the school of Francesco Salviati (Francesco de'Rossi).

Guidi's Chirurgia was derived from the Nicetas Codex, a tenth-century illustrated Byzantine manuscript of surgical works on the treatment of fractures and luxations by Hippocrates, Galen and Oribasius, discussed circa 900 in this database. In 1542, Guidi presented an illustrated copy of this manuscript, along with the manuscript of his own illustrated Latin translation, to François I of France, whom he served as royal physician from 1542 until the king's death in 1547. These manuscripts are preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Guidi had his Latin translation printed by Pierre Gaultier, a printer residing at the castle of Benvenuto Cellini, where Guidi also lived during the time he spent in Paris. The Chirurgia was the only one of Guidi's works published during his lifetime. The exquisite woodcuts of apparatus adorning Guidi's text are copies of the drawings in Guidi's Latin manuscript, which have been claimed, on the basis of a brief reference in the manuscript, to be the work of the Italian mannerist Francesco Primaticcio. However, for both stylistic and logistical reasons, it is more likely that the drawings were made by the school of Francesco [Rosso] Salviati; see Kellett, cited below. The images themselves have been traced back from the Nicetas Codex to the commentary on the Hippocratic treatise Peri arthron (On the joints) composed in the first century B.C.E. by Apollonius of Kitium

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920)  211-212.  Kellett, "The School of Salviati and the Illustrations to the Chirurgia of Vidius Vidius, 1544," Medical History 2 (1958), 264-268. Mortimer, Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts Part I. French Sixteenth Century Books (1964) no. 542. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 954.

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