Plate for the ‘Atlas Anatomico’ (unpublished)

Crisóstomo Alejandrino José Martínez y Sorli Spanish

Not on view

Architectural view of a square with pedestals and obelisks. The composition is divided in two halves, with on the top half 14 human figures in various poses, depicted in outline with an emphasis on their skeletal structure. Twelve figures have been numbered A through M in capital letters. In the foreground, depicted on the bottom half of the sheet, various different bones from the human body are depicted leaning against and lying on the pedestals. Each is depicted multiple times to show the front and back as well as the section of the bone to reveal its internal structure. All are numbered with lower case letters a-z and numbers 1-12. In the center of the composition, a drawing is hung in front of the pedestal which shows the top half of the cranium held in front of a burning candle to reveal the seams and what looks like a fracture.

The plate was meant for the so-called 'Atlas Anatomico', by Crisostomo Martinez y Sorli. The book, as he had planned it, contained the most authoritative anatomical prints made during the seventeenth century. Instead of solely focusing on the makeup of the human body as others had done before him, his intention was to show how the parts of the body related to one another, and made it function. He used the latest technology in microscopic lenses to study the composition of individual bones and the nervous system and translated what he saw under magnification into folio-sized copperplates, which held more detail than had ever been seen in print before.

Martinez started the project in Spain in the early 1680s, and moved to Paris in 1687 where he continued his work. The project was not net completed when he died in 1694 as an exile in Flanders during the Nine Years War. The copper plates for the book appear to have been left in Paris, and two were printed there as a set in 1740. After this date, there are no further records of their whereabouts. 16 other impressions of his plates are kept in the archives in Valencia, which were sent home by Martinez during his time in Paris as recompense for the pension he received from the Spanish crown.

Plate for the ‘Atlas Anatomico’ (unpublished), Crisóstomo Alejandrino José Martínez y Sorli (Spanish, Valencia 1638–ca. 1694 Flanders), Etching

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