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ALIBERT, Jean Louis (1768–1837)

Nosologie naturelle ou Les maladies du corps humain distribuées par familles. Tome Premier (all published).
Paris, Carpelet for Caille & Ravier, 1817.

First edition of this beautifully illustrated work. The colour-printed engravings are superb from both the medical and artistic standpoint. The illustrations were painted by Valville and a few by Maurice and executed in stipple engravings by Tresca and Gianni. Alibert prided himself upon the fact that he was the first to employ the painter’s palette and the burin in the delineation of skin diseases. The plates differ from earlier engravings in that they often show the whole body of the patient and in that each is accompanied by a case history. The patient’s facial expressions are also more true to life and less idealized than in Alibert’s early works. Owing to the great expence in producing this magnificent work only a small edition was issued, and as it was no success a second volume which Alibert planned was never published. However, a second enlarged edition with 33 plates and a portrait was published posthumously in 1838. Alibert is the founder of the modern French school of dermatology. His Description des maladies de la peau (1806) was “the largest and most spectacular of the early classics of dermatology” (Garrison-Morton). He was more than a well-known dermatologist; he was the most renowned physician in all France. In addition to his tremendous private practice and his teaching at Saint Louis Hospital, he was the personal physician to Louis XVIII, a job which was no sinecure, as this was a sickly king.

Collation: Pp (6), lxxxviii, 616. With 24 stipple engraved plates, printed in colour (some finished by hand).

Binding: Contemporary polished calf, gilt border around sides with a small gilt fleuron in each inner corner. Flat spine divided into six compartments with orange title label.

Provenance: The gilt stamp of Sv. Läkare Sällskapet on front cover. Bookbinder’s printed label inside front cover: Claes Ad. Link (Bookbinder to the Royal Court).

References: Garrison, History, pp 417-18; Pusey, History of Dermatology, pp 74-77; Shelley & Crissey, Classics in Clinical Dermatology, pp 31-33; Marmelzat 'Baron Jean Louis Alibert’ in Cutis XIX (1977), pp 355-58; Goldschmid, p 95; Ehring, Skin Diseases, p 104, Waller 358 (2nd ed. 1838). Waller 358 (2nd ed. 1838).

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