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A Moment in History

Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)
Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)

Henry Vandyke Carter, MD
(1831 – 1897)

English physician, surgeon, medical artist, and a pioneer in leprosy and mycetoma studies.  HV Carter was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He was the son of Henry Barlow Carter, a well-known artist and it is possible that he honed his natural talents with his father. His mother picked his middle name after a famous painter, Anthony Van Dyck. This is probably why his name is sometimes shown as Henry Van Dyke Carter, although the most common presentation of his middle name is Vandyke.

Having problems to finance his medical studies, HV Carter trained as an apothecary and later as an anatomical demonstrator at St. George’s Hospital in London, where he met Henry Gray (1872-1861), who was at the time the anatomical lecturer. Having seen the quality of HV Carter’s drawings, Henry Gray teamed with him to produce one of the most popular and longer-lived anatomy books in history: “Gray’s Anatomy”, which was first published in late 1857.  The book itself, about which many papers have been written, was immediately accepted and praised because of the clarity of the text as well as the incredible drawings of Henry Vandyke Carter.

While working on the book’s drawings, HV Carter continued his studies and received his MD in 1856.

In spite of initially being offered a co-authorship of the book, Dr. Carter was relegated to the position of illustrator by Henry Gray and never saw the royalties that the book could have generated for him. For all his work and dedication, Dr. Carter only received a one-time payment of 150 pounds. Dr.  Carter never worked again with Gray, who died of smallpox only a few years later.

Frustrated, Dr. Carter took the exams for the India Medical Service.  In 1858 he joined as an Assistant Surgeon and later became a professor of anatomy and physiology. Even later he served as a Civil Surgeon. During his tenure with the India Medical Service he attained the ranks of Surgeon, Surgeon-Major, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel, and Brigade-Surgeon.

Dr. Carter dedicated the rest of his life to the study of leprosy, and other ailments typical of India at that time. He held several important offices, including that of Dean of the Medical School of the University of Bombay. In 1890, after his retirement, he was appointed Honorary Physician to the Queen.

Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter died of tuberculosis in 1897.

Personal note: Had history been different, this famous book would have been called “Gray and Carter’s Anatomy” and Dr. Carter never gone to India. His legacy is still seen in the images of the thousands of copies of “Gray’s Anatomy” throughout the world and the many reproductions of his work available on the Internet. We are proud to use some of his images in this blog. The image accompanying this article is a self-portrait of Dr. Carter. Click on the image for a larger depiction. Dr. Miranda

1. “Obituary: Henry Vandyke Carter” Br Med J (1897);1:1256-7
2. “The Anatomist: A True Story of ‘Gray’s Anatomy” Hayes W. (2007) USA: Ballantine
3. “A Glimpse of Our Past: Henry Gray’s Anatomy” Pearce, JMS. J Clin Anat (2009) 22:291–295
4. “Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter: Creators of a famous textbook” Roberts S. J Med Biogr (2000) 8:206–212.
5. “Henry Vandyke Carter and his meritorious works in India” Tappa, DM et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol (2011) 77:101-3

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Johannes Veslingius

This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Johannes Veslingius Mindanus (1598 – 1649). German surgeon, anatomist, botanist, and pharmacologist. Johann Vesling (mostly known by his Latinized name “Johannes Veslingius”) was born in a catholic family in Minden, Westphalia. He studied medicine in Leyden and Bologna. He later moved to the Venice medical college, where he became a professor of Anatomy in 1627. Veslingius had an interest in botany, which he pursued his whole life. Although German-born, Veslingius did most of his work and career in Italy. 

In 1628 he traveled to Egypt and Jerusalem as a personal physician of Alvise Cornaro, the Venetian consul in Cairo. In 1632 he became a professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua, in Italy, forcing his return from Jerusalem. At Padua, Veslingius became part of the long list of anatomists that followed Andreas Vesalius’ position.

Veslingius was the first to describe the arterial circle of the brain, eponymically tied today to Thomas Willis, and he was the first to name the soleus muscle, as it resembles the sole fish. In his words: “soleus, a figura piscis denominatus” translated “soleus, named for its fish shape”. Apparently, he was also the first to describe the pancreatic duct which lead to controversy with Wirsung. Veslingius was also the first to describe the four pulmonary veins, described as four of the great vessels.

Johannes Veslingius in the front page of Syntagma Anatomicum. Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine
Original image  courtesy of NLM  

Veslingius published his most important work, “Syntagma Anatomicum, publicis dissectionibus in auditorum usum diligenter aptatum”, in 1641. This work, which originally had no images, was republished in 1647 with full images in copper plates. This original work is important as it leaves the Vesalian tradition of posing the anatomical images with backgrounds and landscapes, dedicating the image solely to the anatomical information; in fact this is the first book to publish original images not copied or inspired from Vesalius’ Fabrica.  This book was the first to influence Japanese anatomy.

Incredibly, Veslingius was accused of murdering Johan Georg Wirsung (1589 - 1643) with whom he had academic conflicts. Veslingius was acquitted of the accusation, and the name of Wirsung is today eponymously attached to the pancreatic duct.

The accompanying image is from the “Syntagma Anatomicum” and shows Veslingius with the following Latin words around him: “Ioannes Veslingius Mindanus Eques Hieros In Patauino Gymnasio Anatom. et Phar. Profess. Primarius” translated as: Johannes Veslingius Mindanus, Knight of Jerusalem, Primary Professor of Anatomy and Pharmacology of the School of Padua.

Below the image you can read: “Talis Apollinea floret Veslingius Arte. Purpureus nives pectore fulget Honor”, translated as:  Veslingius flourishes by the art of Apollo who honors him by shining purple snow on his chest. Click on the image for a larger depiction and to see the Latin text.

Personal note: I am proud to have in my library catalog one of Veslingius’ original prints: “Tavole Anatomiche del Veslingio – Spiegate in Lingua Italiana” (Anatomical images from Veslingius, written in Italian), published in 1745 by Giovanni Battista Conzatti. Dr. Miranda

Original image  courtesy of NLM

1. “The Fabric of the Body. European Tradition of Anatomical Illustration” Roberts KB, Tomlinson JDW (1992) Oxford: Clarendon.
2. “The evolution of anatomical illustration and wax modelling in Italy from the 16th to early 19th centuries” Riva, A. et al. J. Anat. (2010) 216, 209–222
3. “The Anatomical School of Padua” Porzionato, A. et al. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2012 Jun; 295(6):902-16
4. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner, HA. 1970 
5. "Johann Vesling (1598–1649):Seventeenth Century Anatomist of Padua and His Syntagma Anatomicum" SK Ghosh J Clin Anat 2014 Soon-to-be published

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