05 May 2012

A 16th century "anatomical fugitive sheet"

One of the images in the remarkable Wellcome Collection:
Anatomical fugitive sheet (Viscerum...1539) bound at the end of Valverde, Vivae imagines partium corporis humani...1566. Part of the engraving is composed of printed paper flaps that, when lifted, reveal the internal organs of the figure. This is one of a pair of male and female figures... The work was originally published in Rome, 1556.
Four additional images (the male and the female, unlifted and lifted) at the link.

For thoughts about the words "fugitive sheet," see the Comments (especially if you know what it means).


  1. Intrigued by the use of the word fugitive in this context---fugitive sheet. What is the meaning here?

    1. It is a curious use of the word. I had to look it up myself -


      - but I'm still not sure how the usage is derived for the word. It's not like the subject matter (or the book) is fleeting or short-lived, and it's not with "fugitive colors" (so I don't know the answer).

    2. Perhaps?

      fu·gi·tive adj.
      2. ...
      b. Difficult to comprehend or retain; elusive: fugitive solutions to the problem.
      c. Given to change or disappearance; perishable: fugitive beauty.

      from freedictionary(dot)com

    3. I found something else with a search this morning: "...re the Vesalian Tabulae Sex of 1538, the so-called "fugitive sheets." These were as a rule single broadsides, sometimes two, usually printed on only one side of the sheet... Their purpose was to present popular information or to provide a ready reference for the student...

      (from The Illustrations from the Works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels ..., Volume 56, pg 25 on Google Books).

      And a description of one of the first newspapers in Wisconsin: "First newspaper in Monroe County was fugitive sheet printed on one side only."

      And this: "The first illustration of syphilis, by Albrecht Dürer, was printed on a broadside or fugitive sheet with a poem about the epidemic of syphilis by the City of Nuremberg physician..."

      I'm getting a sense that a "fugitive sheet" is something designed not to last a long time. Perhaps the "perishable" that you suggest.

  2. Speaking of anatomy:


  3. Fascinating how much our long ago ancestors knew and created.

    Rob Walker
    author Bismarck 2013


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