Anatomia depicta

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Extent / Format

292 pages / 56.3 x 42.3 cm

Artist / School

Filippo Cavriani


71 full-page anatomical plates

Former owners

Giraldi family

Short description

This impressive testimonial to the development of medicine during the 16th century is stored in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze: a codex of 292 pages in the considerable format of 56.3 x 42.3 cm, composed by the doctor Filippo Cavriani in the second half of the 16th century.

Facsimile editions available


Anatomia depicta

Originally from Mantua, Filippo Cavrani was a doctor who was active in France and Tuscany during the second half of the 16th century. Furthermore, Cavriani also operated at the court of Caterina de’ Medici in Paris. As a gifted doctor, he recorded this grandiose testimony to his enthusiasm for his profession in the years 1565 to 1589: a comprehensive anatomical overview with detailed depictions of the body’s operating principles.

Medical Observations in Artistic Depictions

The manuscript consists of 71 anatomical tables. In doing so, one always finds an anatomical depiction with descriptions in French and Italian on the right page, and a corresponding descriptive and clarifying text on the verso. The large-format depictions are gorgeously water-colored and are consequently worth a closer look not only from a scientific perspective. The human body is presented here in anatomical depictions, which are so wonderfully drawn with various colors and great artistic ability that the depictions radiate a special aesthetic.

An Important Codex for the History of Medicine

The codex is an impressive testimonial of its time, in which the hierarchical supremacy of doctors over surgeons was overturned in the 16th century. In the manuscript, the connection between anatomical and pathological structures are depicted inter alia. In impressive realism, individual tables show e.g. the connections between the individual organs, the course of the blood vessels in the human body, the heart, or the esophagus.
The doctor and librarian Giovanni Targioni discovered the historic treasure around the middle of the 18th century in the collection of Giovanni Giraldi, a member of one of the famous Florentine families with a significant library.

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