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Myotomia Reformata: Or An Anatomical Treatise On The Muscles Of The Human Body. Illustrated with Figures after the Life. - By the late Mr. William Cowper, Surgeon, and Fellow of the Royal Society. - To which is prefix'd An Introduction Concerning Muscular Motion. -

William Cowper author draughtsman

RA Collection: Book

Record number



William Cowper, author, draughtsman

Variant Title

Anatomical treatise on the muscles of the human body


London:: Printed for Robert Knaplock, and William and John Innys, in St. Paul's Church-Yard; and Jacob Tonson, in the Strand., MDCCXXIV.

Physical Description

[12], lxxvii, [1], 194 p., frontis., 66 [i.e. 67], [1] pl.: illus. ; 465 mm. (Folio.)

General Note

Plate 13 occurs bis. The last, unnumbered plate is double.


[Frontis., t.p.] - Advertisement (by Richard Mead) - The Preface - Introduction. Concerning the Muscles and their Action - [Text, with illus.] - Explanation Of The Tables [and plates].

Responsibility Note

Richard Mead's 'Advertisement' states that the work was edited by himself, with the assistance of Joseph Tanner, James Jurin and Henry Pemberton.

The plates are unsigned - apart from pl. 65, which is signed as engraved by 'M.Vdr Gucht'. In-text illustrations are also unsigned - apart from the tailpiece printed on pp. 28 and 86, which is signed as engraved and designed by L. du Guernier, and that on p.83, which is signed 'LCf' (?) and 'C.D.B.'


ESTC, T132917
M. Cazort et al., The ingenious machine of nature: four centuries of art and anatomy [exhibition catalogue] (1996)
K.B. Roberts and J.D.W. Tomlinson, The fabric of the body: European traditions of anatomical illustration (1992)
R.F. Buckman and J.W. Futrell, 'William Cowper', in Surgery, 99:5 (1986), p.582-90.

Summary Note

The first edition of this work appeared in 1694. Cowper began preparing plates for a revised edition in 1705; but, according to his memorial tablet, 'anxious to complete his treatise of Myotomy he ruined his constitution by severe labour and watchings', and at the time of his death the plates had been completed but his revisions to the text had to be incorporated by James Jurin.

Cowper's plates and illustrations show muscles and skeletons; the last, unnumbered plate is an engraved 'Syllabus Musculorum'. The plates are described by M. Kornell (DNB) as a 'landmark in anatomical illustration, bridging the classicism of Vesalius of the sixteenth century and the realism of John Bell of the late eighteenth century', and she points out that their suitability for use in artistic anatomy is demonstrated by their use in Lelli's Anatomia esterna and J. Tinney's Compendium anatomicum (1743). Three plates (pl. 11-13) are described as being for the use of painters and sculptors. An earlier indication of Cowper's concerns in this matter may be found in his comments on the third plate of his Anatomy (1698).

Many of Cowper's notes and drawings are preserved in the British Library and Glasgow University Library.


Acquired between 1802 and 1821. Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1821.

Binding Note

20th-century half calf, brown cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'Cowper On The Muscles', 'R.A.' and '1724'.


Muscles - Human anatomy
Treatises - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Richard Mead, 1673-1754,, editor.
Joseph Tanner, editor.
James Jurin, 1684-1750,, editor.
Robert Knaplock, d. 1737,, publisher
Henry Pemberton, 1694-1771,, editor.
Jacob Tonson the elder, 1656?-1736,, publisher
John Innys, publisher
William Innys, publisher
Michael van der Gucht, engraver
W. and J. Innys (London), publisher