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1697 - 1770

Bernhard Siegfried Albinus

Bernhard Siegfried Albinus followed his father in the study of medicine, studying in Leiden with such notable medical men as Herman Boerhaave, Johann Jacob Rau, and Govard Bidloo and received further training in Paris. Something of a prodigy, he entered the University of Leiden at age 12 and became a professor of anatomy at the University of Leiden at the age of 24, and eventually became chair of Anatomy and Surgery. He returned to Leiden in 1721 in his mid-20s to teach surgery and anatomy and soon became one of the most well-known anatomists of the eighteenth century. He was especially famous for his studies of bones and muscles and his attempts at improving the accuracy of anatomical illustration. Among his publications were Historia Muscolorum Hominis (Leiden, 1734), Icones Ossium Foetus Humani (Leiden, 1737), and new editions of the works of Bartholomeo Eustachio and Andreas Vesalius.

He is best known for his monumental Tabulae Sceleti et Musculorum Corporis Humani, which was published in Leiden in 1747, largely at Albinus’ own expense. The artist and engraver with whom Albinus did nearly all of his work was Jan Wandelaar (1690–1759). In an attempt to increase the scientific accuracy of anatomical illustration, Albinus and Wandelaar devised a new technique of placing nets with square webbing at specified intervals between the artist and the anatomical specimen and copying the images using the grid patterns. Tabulae was highly criticized by such engravers as Petrus Camper, especially for the whimsical backgrounds added to many of the pieces by Wandelaar, but Albinus staunchly defended Wandelaar and his work.