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Abregé D'Anatomie, Accommodé Aux Arts De Peinture Et De Sculpture, Et mis dans un ordre nouveau, dont la methode est tres-facile, & débarassée de toutes les difficultez & choses inutiles, qui ont toûjours esté un grand obstacle aux Peintres, pour arriver à la perfection de leur Art. Ouvrage tres-utile, & tres-necessaire à tous ceux qui font profession du Dessein. Mis en lumiere par François Tortebat, Peintre du Roy dans son Academie Royale de la Peinture & de la Sculpture.

François Tortebat author publisher

RA Collection: Book

Record number



François Tortebat, author, publisher


Et se vendent A Paris,: Chez ledit Tortebat, ruë Neufve-Sainte-Catherine., M. DC. LXVII. Avec Privilege De Sa Maiesté.

Physical Description

[26]p., 2 pl.: [12] illus.; 472 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

The twelve illustrations are full-page. Ten are lettered or numbered, A, B, C, I-VII, and the last two are unnumbered. Of these illustrations A and B form the recto and verso of one plate, as do figures VII and [1]; but C, I-VI and [2] all carry letter-press text on their versos.


[T.p., dedic.] - Au Lecteur - [Text, with pl.] - Extrait Du Privilege Du Roy; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

Although François Tortebat was responsible for the dedication and the plates, the text and preface were written by Roger de Piles (as the latter claims in his commentary on his translation of Dufresnoy's De arte graphica, 1673, and in his Cours de peinture par principes, 1708).

Illustrations A, C and I are signed as drawn and engraved by F. Tortebat. Illustrations B, II-VII and [1] are signed 'FT'; illustration [2] is signed 'F. Tortebat'. The illustrations are copied from Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica and Epitome.

The work is dedicated by Tortebat to 'Messieurs De L'Academie Royale De Peinture Et Sculpture'.


M. Cazort et al., The Ingenious Machine of Nature [exhibition catalogue] (1996); G.D.R. Bridson and J.J. White, Plant, animal and anatomical illustration ... a bibliographical guide (1990).

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1667 is carried by the title page, but the colophon and illustration 'C' carry the date of 1668.

Tortebat's book is one of the earliest works on anatomy intended specifically for artists (first in the field was J. Van der Gracht's Anatomie of 1634). This is proclaimed on its title page; and the dedication associates it with an academy of art. But, like Van der Gracht, Tortebat relies on the anatomic plates of Vesalius (which he believed to have been prepared by Titian). The format of this book would be followed by several others addressed to artists: plates showing the bone and muscle structure of the whole body are preceded by a preface emphasising the usefulness the study and citing the example of Michelangelo and others. Like Van der Gracht the author is sensitive to the question of whether close study of anatomy might have a deadening effect on style, and says of Titian, 'bien qu'il eût parfaitement possedé l'Anatomie - comme nous le monstrent assez ces belles figures anatomiques qu'il desseigna pour les oeuvres de Vésale - il a neanmoins peints ses chairs avec une delicatesse & une tendresse si grande qu'il ne se peut rien davantage'.

The book was well thought of; Bridson and White list seven editions in the eighteenth century.


Acquired between 1769 and 1802. Recorded in A Catalogue Of The Library In The Royal Academy, London (1802).

Binding Note

18th-century half calf, brown cloth-covered boards; gilt-decorated spine, black morocco spine-label lettered 'Tortebat Anatomie'.


Manuals - France - 17th century
Pictorial works - France - 17th century