The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, Allegorical Title Page


The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, Allegorical Title Page




The allegorical title page of The Anatomy of Humane Bodies displays a scene with several individuals performing various tasks in a classical landscape. In the foreground, Father time is shown holding an hourglass while his scythe lies on the ground on the left. On the right of the foreground, three putti are depicted; one hold a piece of parchment, presumably with an anatomical diagram on it in front of the other two, one of which holds a skull, and the other points to a forearm which is spread across a small table. Behind them is the title of the atlas, which reads "The Anatomy of Humane Bodies by William Cowper Surgeon. 1698," which is printed on a piece of paper and pasted over the original engraved title of Ontleding des Meschelyken Lichaams. This is engraved upon a shield resting against a platform on which the allegory of Medicine sits, identified by the large volume that she rests against and the knife like tool she holds in her hand. Beside her, a young boy stands, his face shrouded by drapery, and the skin of his arm removed to display the inner musculature. Flying above and behind the allegory of Medicine is Gloria, identified by her wings and two horns. Finally, in the background, flanked by distinctly Baroque architecture, two skeletons converse with each other. This allegorical title page was purchased alongside three hundred imprints of the 105 copperplate engravings featured within Govard Bidloo's atlases from his publishers.


Gerard de Lairesse (artist), Peter and Philip van Gunst (engravers)


Printed at the theatre for Samuel Smith and Benjamin Walford, printers to the Royal Society in 1698.




William Cowper
Gerard de Lairesse
Peter van Gunst
Philip van Gunst


Public Access (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004)


Ontleding des Meschelyken Lichaams
Anatomia Humani Corporis






Medical Text


Seventeenth century English medical practice

Alternative Title

The anatomy of humane bodies, with figures drawn after the life by some of the best masters in Europe, and curiously engraven in one hundred and fourteen copper plates, illustrated with large explications, containing many new anatomical discoveries, and chirurgical observations, to which is added an introduction explaining the animal oeconomy, with a copious index.

Date Created


Is Part Of

The Anatomy of Humane Bodies

Is Version Of

Ontleding des Meschelyken Lichaams


62.5 x 36 cm


Copperplate engraving on paper

Bibliographic Citation

William Cowper. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies. Oxford, Printed at the theatre for Samuel Smith and Benjamin Walford, printers to the Royal Society, 1698.


Medical Practitioners
Medical Students
Members of the Royal Society




Gerard de Lairesse (artist), Peter and Philip van Gunst (engravers), “The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, Allegorical Title Page,” Digital Exhibits, accessed May 29, 2024,

Item Relations

This Item dcterms:relation Item: Anatomia Humani Corporis, Allegorical Title Page
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Ontleding des Meschelyken Lichaams, Allegorical Title Page
Item: Portrait of William Cowper dcterms:relation This Item
Item: Appendix, Table 2: Male anatomical Figure showing Musculature dcterms:relation This Item
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