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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

Sources:
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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Book: "In the shadow of Vesalius"

This is a new, as yet unpublished, book authored by several of my good friends who with me follow Vesaliana all over the world. There are too many of my friends to count, but I highly recommend this book. Dr. Miranda

In this richly illustrated book, a multitude of academic scholars present new findings concerning Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis  and his contemporaries. One of those discoveries includes a preparatory sketch by Jan Steven van Calcar for a drawing in Vesalius’ famous ‘Fabrica’, called ‘The Philosopher’.

Included are authentic letters, written by Vesalius to his friends Benedetto Varchi and Octavo Landi, are presented and translated for the first time and are thoroughly discussed, shedding new light on crucial periods of Vesalius’ life like his leave from academic Padua, exchanged  for imperial service to Charles V, or his contribution in the treatment of Philips II’s son, crown prince Carlos in Spain.

In the shadow of Vesalius cover

Clicking on this image will download a PDF file with the book information

Anatomical novelties, discovered by Vesalius’ friends and contemporaries, are equally broadly exposed, like Canani’s input in human arm musculature or Valverde’s ‘corrections’ of Vesalius’ Epitome. Valverde’s publication became one of the greatest ‘bestsellers’ in anatomy during the 16th and 17th century, thereby spreading the ‘Vesalian Revolution’ all over Europe.  But also, the relationship between Vesalius and his Paduan room mate John Kay or Caius is explicated, as are a number of family descendants of Vesalius.

That Vesalius influenced artists in anatomical models and drawings is newly acknowledged in this book, as well as his influence on veterinary medicine.

In short, an inspiring new account of Vesalius’ extraordinary long-term influence on anatomy, science and art in general. One interesting point is that until now, many of the series of articles that composes the book where only available in Greek!

Jacqueline Vons (Emer. Professor of Latin and Medical History, University of Tours, France) comments "Centered around the figure of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), this book ‘In the Shadow of Vesalius’ offers a vast panorama of the anatomical knowledge in Europe during early Modern times.

Some new documents and private letters have been discovered and are finely analyzed, as are anatomical books written by contemporaries and successors of Vesalius. The studies gathered here show how the text and iconography’s diffusion of De Humani Corporis Fabrica and Epitome made Vesalius the first modern medical authority (auctoritas): his work was quoted, copied, discussed by all those who were interested in the anatomy of the human body."

Click here to download a PDF file with a description of the book, the Table of Contents, and the information to pre-order this book which will be launched on November 14, 2020. To order a book at a pre-launch discounted price, you can go directly to the publisher's website (http://garant.be/shadow-of-vesalius/).

Pascale Pollier
My personal thanks to Pascale Pollier-Green for bringing this book to my attention. Dr. Miranda

Pascale recently wrote an article looking back at how this book came to be. Here is the story of "The Long Road to the book "In the Shadow of Vesalius"