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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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Without the organizing skills and drive and energy of Dr. Mark Gardiner and the countless meetings and emails with Theo Dirix, the conference Vesalius Continuum would not have been the huge world class event it became.
In 2013 Dr. Mark Gardiner and I first introduced ourselves to Professor Vivian Nutton who was giving a lecture at Warwick University about the incredible find of a hand written (by Vesalius himself !) edited version of the Fabrica’s second edition, which would have become the third edition, …had Vesalius not met his untimely death. Mark and I were blown away by this wonderfully exciting lecture and we asked Professor Nutton to be a speaker at our conference in 2014, which he accepted gladly. He was invited again in 2017 for the triennial and has now especially for this publication written an exciting account of Vesalius in England, 1544 to 1547.
Sculpting the monument in Richard Neave’s studio
Vesalius’s 500 th anniversary celebrations did not end with the organization of the conference, but became a collection of several events.
My colleague and dear friend forensic medical artist Richard Neave and I sculpted a bronze monument to commemorate Vesalius’s death on the Island of Zakynthos on 15th Oct 1564. This monument might never have been erected if it were not for the wonderful idea of Antwerp GP and president of Vesaliana Dr Marc de Roeck together with William Nagels, who devised a way of self-funding this large undertaking. We had countless meetings discussing the monument and agreed with Dr. de Roeck that by making a bronze facial reconstruction portrait (made by Richard Neave and myself) and selling 12 copies we would gather enough money together to make the monument, pay to have it cast in Bronze and drive the sculpture from Belgium to Zakynthos ready to have its grand inauguration at the start of the conference. This was all achieved successfully and the sculpture now stands on the Island of Zakynthos’s Vesalius square, facing the Ionian sea.
In 2009 I had completed a facial reconstruction course at the academy of fine arts in Maastricht , the Netherlands, and as Vesalius had always been my big inspiration and the reason why I chose to become a medical artist, it was my dream to make a facial reconstruction of Vesalius. The dream soon turned into a passion, and the passion into an obsession to go in search of the grave of Vesalius and find his skull. Ann suggested to Marc we sailed to Zakynthos with the MYC-Medical Yachting Club to start the quest for the grave. I will never forget the day that Marc gave me the ships wheel as we got closer to the island and I sailed into the harbor of Zakynthos! An amazing feeling!
After our first visit to “what we thought then was the grave site“ at Laganas, I wrote a letter to the Belgian embassy in Greece, asking for help with our quest, a year later when Theo Dirix took office as Consul he wrote back to me, my letter had ignited a flame in the heart of taphophile Theo Dirix.
Sculpting the monument in Richard Neave’s studio Click on the image for a larger version
Soon the quest became an official scientific research collaborative project between the Belgian School of Athens (Jan Driessen, Apostolis Sarris, Sylviane Déderix) and the Greek authorities, together with the invaluable research of Omer Steeno, Maurits Biesbrouk and Theodoor Godeeris, who all share their latest findings in this book. With this wonderful collaborative effort, even though we have not yet found the actual grave, we can truly claim that we have made some history.