Jacques-Fabien Gautier d’Agoty (1711-1786) began an ambitious plan for the publication of colour printed anatomy plates and descriptive text, with the issue in 1745 of eight prints of the muscles of the face, neck, head, tongue and larinx; followed one year later by a second group of twelve, larger prints showing muscles of the pharynx, torso, arms and legs. All these corpses were dissected and prepared by another man, Duverney, lecturer in anatomy “Au Jardin du Roi”, and Gautier was the artist-engraver. The two works were assembled under the general title “Myologie Complete”.
The present copy has been bound with both title pages (1745 and 1746) and is complete with all the text leaves, dedication leaves and the apologia or “Advertissement” on the verso of which is the explicit and somewhat boastful statement of official copyright.
The dedication and copyright notices make no bones about Gautier’s claims as inventor and skilled practitioner in this new art of colour printing. Duverney, the academic partner, signs the dedication (to Lapeyronie the King’s doctor), asserting that colour printing can nowhere make a greater contribution to scientific understanding than in anatomy.
The second series includes the fascinating “L’Ange Anatomique”, so called by the surrealists painters, the muscles of the back being stripped out like an angel’s wings; while she, with her hair arranged neatly in the style of her day, looks back over her shoulder in a spirit of calm inquiry.
« La myologie reste sans conteste le chef-d’oeuvre de Gautier, le livre auquel il accorde le plus de soin, tant dans l’invention de ses images que dans le traitement de la technique » (Anatomie de la couleur, exhibition Bibliothèque nationale de France, 1996).
A fine copy of this important work, the text leaves have all been window mounted to the size of the large plates at the time of the binding in order to keep the plates in their original state, without folding them.