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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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Mondino de Luzzi

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.
Mondino de Luzzi (ca.1270 – 1326). Italian anatomist, born Raimondo de Luzzi in the city of Bologna circa 1270.  He was also known as Mondino, Remondino, or Mundinus de Leutiis, de Lentiis, de Lucci, and other variations of his name. His father Nerino Franzoli was an apothecary, and Mondino also started working as such.

In 1290 he enrolled in the Medical School at the University of Bologna obtaining his medical degree circa 1290. Mondino stayed at the university, where he continued to teach until his death in 1326.

His major publication is “Anothomia Corporis Humani”, written circa 1316 and found only in manuscript form. It was finally printed in movable type in 1478, making it easily available to the public. While some authors like Singer, 1925 contend that this is his only publication, others discuss the possibility that Mondino de’ Luzzi wrote other books that have been adjudicated to other authors as at the time the name “Mondino” was very common.

“Anothomia Corporis Humani” is the first anatomical book based on actual dissections, and the book was organized almost as a dissection manual, explaining dissection techniques to visualize specific structures. Initially this book had no illustrations, but some were added in later publications.

Title page of Anathomia Corporis Humanis by Mondino de Luzzi. Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine
Title page of Anathomia Corporis Humanis by Mondino de Luzzi
With over 40 editions, the last one in 1668, this book was used for almost 250 years. Mondino restarted human dissections in medical schools almost 1,500 years the medical school of Alexandria, leading many to call Mondino the “restorer of anatomy”.

It is said that Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) used one of Mondino’s books as a dissection manual to guide his own. Because Mondino followed Galen’s dictums and teachings, he was harshly criticized for his errors by Andreas Vesalius (1514 – 1564).

Although it is not clear if Mondino himself performed the actual dissections (he says he did), it is clear that he directed them. We know of two of his assistants:  Otto Agenio Lustrolanus and Alessandra Giliani, the first woman prosector and anatomist. When Mondino died the same year as Alessandra Giliani, the expectation was that his assistant would continue the work of the master. Sadly Otto Agenio Lustrolanus died before he was 30 years old.

In the introduction to “Anothomia” Mondino says: "A work upon any science or art-as saith Galen-is issued for three reasons: First, that one may satisfy his friends. Second, that he may exercise his best mental powers. Third, that he may be saved from the oblivion incident to old age. Therefore, moved by these three causes, I have proposed to my pupils to compose a certain work on Medicine.”

"And because a knowledge of the parts to be subjected to medicine (which is the human body, and the names of its various divisions) is a part of medical science, as saith Averrhoes in his first chapter, in the section on the definition of medicine, for this reason among others I have set out to lay before you the knowledge of the parts of the human body which is derived from anatomy, not attempting to use a lofty style, but the rather that which is suitable to a manual procedure."

1. “Mondino de' Luzzi's commentary on the Canones Generales of Mesue the Younger” Welborn, MC. Isis  , 22: 1 (1934) , 8-11
2. “Medieval neuroanatomy: the text of Mondino dei Luzzi and the plates of Guido da Vigevano” Orly R. J Hist Neurosci. 1997 6 (2):113-123
3. “Mondino de Luzzi (1270-1326) Restaurador de la Disecci?n Anat?mica” Rever?n, RR. Informe Medico 2007; 9 (12):589-592
4. “The history and illustration of anatomy in the Middle Ages” Gurunluoglu, R, et al. J Med Biogr 2013 21: 219 – 229
5. “The Mondino Myth” Pilcher, LS. 1906
Original image courtesy of NLM

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