DESCARTES De Homine figuris et Latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl.


First edition of Descartes' treatise "De Homine Figuris"

The first edition of De Homine figuris by Descartes.

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DESCARTES, René. De Homine figuris et Latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl. Lugduni Batavorum, Franciscum Moyardum & Petrum Leffen, 1662.

Small 4to [201 x 158 mm] of (18) ll., 123 pp. (wrongly numbered 121), (1) p., 7 full-page figures, 10 plates out of pagination, some folded, and 48 figures in the text. Contemporary brown granite-like full calf, mottled edges. Rebacked.

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First edition, published 2 years before the first French edition, copied from the French original manuscript, translated into Latin, and printed without Descartes’ authorization. Tchemerzine, II, 798; Guibert, pp. 196-198.

The present work has various real interests: – It constituted a decisive cultural event, since it is the first form of publication in Europe of a treatise radically snatching the study of the human body from the scholastic tradition, asking to deal with breathing, circulation of the blood, sight, … as with any other natural phenomenon, ruling out interpretations by mysterious powers, and stimulating, despite exceptional mistakes, the progress of biological and medical researches; – It contains a plate with movable parts describing the heart. This plate allows the discovery of the internal structure, thanks to a process which appeared on anatomical loose leaves in Venice in the 16th century.

This first edition is especially sought-after for the translator’s foreword that takes up 16 leaves and that was kept in the French edition.

The illustration of this philosophical and medical treatise is composed of 65 beautiful medical and scientific engravings including one with movable parts and some folding. The first edition is more finely illustrated than the French edition because it is enriched with copper engravings, including 10 plates out of pagination, while the French one only contains woodcuts.

A good copy complete with all its plates including the one with movable parts, of this uncommon edition.

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