Medieval and Renaissance anatomists: the printing and unauthorized copying of illustrations, and the dissemination of ideas.Prog Brain Res. 2013; 203:33-74.PB
The vanguard that began to question Galenic anatomical dogma originated in northern Italy in the latter half of the thirteenth century, and not coincidentally this was where human dissection was introduced, which in turn eventually fostered the origins of realistic anatomical illustration in the late fifteenth century. With the advent of the printing press and moveable type at this time, printed books began to supersede hand-copied medieval manuscripts, and labor-intensive techniques were soon developed to integrate text and illustrations on the printed page. The same technology was used to pirate the illustrations of prior authors with varying fidelity. Specific medieval and Renaissance anatomical illustrations can often be traced from their inceptions through different stages of development to the final printed images, and then through subsequent pirated versions in various abridgements or other compendia. The most important milestone in the development of anatomy and anatomical illustration was the publication in 1543 by Andreas Vesalii of De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body), commonly referred to simply as the Fabrica. With this work, Vesalii succeeded in coordinating a publication production team (author, artists, block cutters, publisher, and typesetters) to achieve an unprecedented integration of scientific discourse, medical illustration, and typography. However, despite Vesalii's valiant efforts to prevent unauthorized duplication, the illustrations from the Fabrica were extensively plagiarized. Although Vesalii found such piracy frustrating and annoying, the long-term effect was to make Vesalii's ideas known to a wider readership and to help solidify his own revolutionary contributions to anatomy.