Detail map of Roma, Lazio, Italy Overview map of Roma, Lazio, Italy

A: Roma, Lazio, Italy

Juan Valverde de Amusco Issues the First Great Original Spanish Medical Book, Illustrated and Printed in Rome


In 1556 Spanish physician Juan Valverde de Amusco published Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano in Rome at the press of Antonio Salamanca. This was the first great original medical book in Spanish and the most original of the various "plagiarisms" from Vesalius's Fabrica, although Valverde freely acknowledged that he took his illustrations from Vesalius, providing only four entirely new plates in his series of 42 copperplate engravings copied from the Vesalian woodcuts. Valverde also sometimes corrected Vesalius' images, as in his depictions of the muscles of the eyes, nose, and larynx. 

Valverde probably had his book published in Rome rather than in Spain in order to have the illustrations made to standards higher than could be accomplished in Spain at the time. The engraver he chose had come from Spain, and the artist had come from France; both were drawn to Rome to work with Michelangelo. The plates for the book were engraved by the French engraver Nicolas Beatrizet, who engraved under the direction of Michelangelo between 1540 and 1560. Beatrizet probably engraved the plates from drawings by the Spanish artist Gaspar Becerra, a pupil of Michelangelo. Thus, Valverde's medical book may be said to have been illustrated under Michelangelo's influence. One of Valverde's most striking original plates is that of a muscleman holding his own skin in one hand and a knife in the other; this has been compared to Michelangelo's painting of Saint Bartholomew in the Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel.

Timeline Themes