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MAYGRIER, Jacques Pierre (1771-1835)

Nouvelles démonstrations d'accouchemens, avec des planches en taille-douce, accompagnées d’un texte raisonné, propre à en faciliter l’explication, format in-folio.
Paris, Béchet, 1822.

The rare first edition of Maygrier’s major work, the best and most magnificent obstetrical atlas of the nineteenth century. It was originally issued in twenty parts over a period of five years with four plates in each part. The splendid illustrations are executed with utmost skill and artistery. The instructive and pedagogical plates were drawn by the celebrated artist Antoine Chazal, and stipple engraved by Forestier and Couche fils. The stipple and roulette technique of crayon-manner engraving was popular among French engravers of the period. When, as here, printed on fine and strong paper, it gives an extraordinarily black impression. Antoine Chazal (1793-1854) had made fine illustrations of plants and fruits but those in Maygrier’s atlas were his first medical ones, later followed by those of several other medical works including the strikingly beautiful lithographs for Jean Cruveilhier’s Anatomie pathologique du corps humain (1829-1842). Maygrier’s atlas is seldom found complete, as often happens with books issued in parts over a long period, and certain desirable plates are often removed by ‘connoisseurs’. Maygrier was an army surgeon who later went to Paris and became a pupil of Antoine Dubois, accoucheur of the Empress Marie Louise. Maygrier built up an extensive obstetric practice and published many works on anatomy and obstetrics. In 1822 he began the publishing of his famous folio atlas assisted by Antoine Chazal. It was reprinted in Brussels in 1825 and again in 1837, and before long translations appeared in Spanish (1828) and Dutch (1836-8). The English edition was translated by A. Sidney Doane in 1833 and became very popular in the United States. It went through six editions up to 1850. E. C. J. von Siebold´s Abbildungen to his important Geburtshilfe (1836) is in fact a reduced version of Maygrier’s atlas.

Collation: Pp (5), vi-x, (2) blank, 80, (2), with 80 stipple engraved plates, of which some folding and one double-page.

Binding: Contemporary half calf, marbled boards.

References: Ricci, The Development of Gynaecological Surgery and Instruments, 1949, pp 306-07, 343-45; Cutter & Veits, A History of Midwifery, 1964, pp 231-32; Thornton & Reeves, Medical Book Illustration, 1983, p 108; Hahn & Dumaitre, Histoire de la Medicine et du Livre Medicale, 1962, pp 351, 356; Hagelin, Womans Booke, 140-43; Facsimile edition in Editions Medicina Rara, 1988 (with comments to the plates). Waller 6375.

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