Kaitai shinsho [Anatomical Tables]. - KULMUS, Johann Adam. Kulmus's Dutch text translated into Japanese and edited by Sugita Genpaku (1733-1818), Maeno Ryotaku (1723-1803), Nakagawa Jun'an (1739-1786), Ishikawa Genjo (1744-1816) and Katsuragawa Hoshu (1751-1809). Yedo [Tokyo], 1774. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007. Estimate 15,000 - 25,000 U.S. dollars.
NEW YORK - Encompassing two hundred of the greatest and most visually arresting classics in the history of the art of the human body, the Collection of Dr. Dean Edell will be offered for sale at Christie's on October 5, 2007. Dr. Edell’s expansive collection includes rare books, prints, drawings, and art objects regarding the human body. The collection is a treasure trove of images which have rarely been viewed as artistic rather than merely medical in importance. In sickness and in health, the Collection of Dr. Dean Edell presents anatomy as art.
Dr. Dean Edell has become known as a physician, author, and media personality whose radio and television shows on health are seen and heard by an audience exceeding ten million across the United States. Lesser known however is Dr. Edell’s lifelong penchant for art collecting, and his pastime as an amateur artist. His collection deftly fuses these two passions and recounts the history of anatomy as seen from the perspective of the artist as well as the physician. Dr. Edell’s approach to collecting represents a transformation from the way these books and objects are traditionally viewed. Even though many illustrated treatises on anatomy were executed and sometimes written by artists of great ability and reputation, they tend to be appreciated more for their accuracy of representation than for their often spectacular artistic visions of the interior workings of the human body— the beauty beneath the skin.
The Dean Edell Collection is notable as a rich and varied collection of anatomical illustrations. A fine example by Jacques Gautier d’Agoty is a two volume set illustrating the human anatomy. Gautier d’Agoty was one of the pioneers in the process of color printing and he was also the first printer to unite the new technique with recent interest in the study of anatomy and anatomical illustrations. The results speak for themselves. Gautier d’Agoty created a series of books as radically original and dramatic in their size and artistic composition as they were original in their manner of production. This particular copy belonged to Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, the type of wealthy amateur scientist who could afford these spectacular and spectacularly expensive publications (estimate $20,000 – 30,000).
Recognized primarily as an Old Master painter and print maker, Albrecht Dürer’s work in the field of anatomical illustrations is largely unknown. His presence here, however, underscores the fact that these illustrations, largely recognized for their scientific accuracy, are equally valuable for their artistic execution. Included in the Edell Collection is the final treatise executed by Dürer prior to his death in 1528. This last work deals with the problems of comparative and differential anthropometry, the science of measuring the human body to determine averages. Illustrated throughout with woodcuts diagrams by Dürer, this manuscript is a rare collection of anatomical drawings by a major Renaissance artist (estimate $20,000 – 30,000).
A particular strength in the collection is found in the first edition of Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (1543) which contains the most famous anatomical illustrations ever published. Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica represents a major breakthrough by joining scientific knowledge, artistic rendering, and typographic precision. Vesalius was extremely detailed in his attention to the illustrations within his text and relied on the services of a master printer, Johannes Oporinus of Basel. De Humani Corporis Fabrica ultimately provides fuller and more detailed illustrations of the human anatomy than any preceding work (estimate $200,000 - $300,000).
Among the varied treasures in the Edell Collection is the exceptionally rare set of three life-size copper engravings by the famed engraver and publisher Antonio Cattani (1780-81). The anatomical illustrations consist of two life-size frontal and dorsal views of flayed men, based on a pair by the Bolognese artist Ercole Lelli used for study at the University of Bologna medical school. Cattani completed his set by adding a third life-size engraving depicting the secondary layer of musculature (estimate $50,000 – 70,000).
In addition to anatomical illustrations and engravings, Chinese art has also been a lifelong collecting focus for Dr. Edell. So prominent in fact, is his collection of jade snuff bottles, that in 1998 it was published as “The Brush, The Stone.” Not surprisingly then, Dr. Edell has sought out important works in the Eastern medical tradition. The Edell Collection includes the first Japanese edition of the first Western medical book be translated in Japan, the Kaitai Shinsho. Prior to this publication, Japanese medicine had remained fundamentally unchanged for centuries. It was the Kaitai Shinsho that marked the introduction of European anatomical knowledge to Japan and is directly responsible for the Japanese acceptance of the Western view of the body (estimate $15,000 – 25,000). Auction: The Dean Edell Collection October 5, 2007. Viewing: Christie’s Galleries at Rockefeller Center October 1-5, 2007.
Full caption for image on fron page: CATTANI, Antonio. Three life-size engravings (detail) after the celebrated wood écorchés by Ercole Lelli, each approximately 1845 x 570 mm, two composed of four joined sheets, the last composed of five joined sheets, two with old rollers preserved in modern brown cloth box. Bologna: Stamperia Cattani Nerozzi nel Pavaglione, 1780-1781. (Each carefully removed from old linen mounts [preserved in box] and mounted on rice paper repairing some tears and wear at edges, some small areas renewed.) © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007. Estimate 50,000 - 70,000 U.S. dollars.