Albinus, Bernard Siegfried

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(b. Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, Germany, 24 February 1697; d. Leiden, Netherlands, 9 September 1770)

anatomy, medicine.

Bernard Siegfried, the eldest son of Bernard, matriculated at Leiden on 16 September 1709, at the age of twelve. He studied under his father. H.Boerhaave, G.Bidloo, and J.J.Rau. In 1718 he began a study trip but was soon called back to become lecturer in comparative anatomy, relieving Rau, who was ill and died soon afterward. He began teaching on 2 October 1719, before he had been awarded the—which he received honoris causa shortly thereafter. After his father’s death. Bernard Siegfried was appointed to succeed him, mainly on the recommendation of Boerhaave. He started his duties on 19 November 1721, teaching anatomy and surgery.

Although Bernard Siegfried became a professor at the uncommonly early age of twenty-four, the university never had cause to regret his appointment. He soon became the leading anatomist of his time; with Boerhaave he made the University of Leiden the world center of medical education. In order to supply his pupils with study material, he reissued (with Boerhaave) the anatomical atlas of Vesalius and later, the anatomical works of Fabrici (1737) and of Eustachi (1744). He also edited the complete works of William Harvey (1736). Not satisfied with these, for their time excellent, anatomical works, he started publishing his own plates, on the human bones (1726), on the human muscles (1734), and on the development of the human skeleton (1737). These works were, however only a forerunner of greater achievements.

In 1745 Bernard Siegfried’s duties were partially lightened by the appointment of his youngest brother as lecturer in anatomy and surgery; starting 30 August 1745 he taught only general medicine and physiology. This easier schedule enabled him to embark on the great project at which he had been working for many years, a definitive anatomical atlas. He had devised a method for accurately rendering the proportions of a human skeleton or a muscle man-which method was, however, not original; Albrecht Durer had already used it.(See the figure “Der Zeichner des liegenden Weibes,” in Dɒrer’s Underweysung der Messung mit dem Zirkel und Richtscheyt, in Linien, Ebnen und gantzen Corporen[Nurnberg, 1625].) Bernard Siegfried engaged Jan Wandelaar, one of the best draftsmen and engravers available, and spent more 30,000 guilders of his own money in the preparation of the work. In 1747 his work on the human skeleton and muscles was published in thirty-five sheets; in 1748, his illustration of the gravid uterus in nine sheets; and in 1753, an atlas of the human bones, drawn separately, in thirty-four sheets. These plates, supreme examples of anatomical illustration, have never been equaled in excellence. Between 1754 and 1768, his studies on human physiology were published in eight volumes.

After his death, Bernard Siegfried’s anatomical preparations were sold at auction. They were bought by the University of Leiden after his widow, Clara Magdalena du Peyrou, had declined an offer of Express Catherine II of Russia.

Bernard Siegfried was, without doubt, the most important member of the Albinus family. Besides his anatomical work, he made several medical discoveries, among them that the Haversian canals serve to carry blood vessels. He determined the existence of the hymen, which had been a subject of controversy for centuries, in an original way (E.D.Baumann,Medisch historische Studiёn[privately printed, 1935], 16).


I. Original Works.Writings by Bernard Siegfried are Oratio inauguralis de anatome comparata (Leiden,1719); Oratio qua in veram viam, quae ad fabricae humani corporis cognitionem inquiritur ducat(Leiden, 1721); Andreae Vesali invictissimi Caroli V Imperatoris Madici, Opera omnia anatomica et chirurgica (Leiden, 1725), with H.Boerhaave, Partial English trans. by B.Farrington in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa,19 (1930), 49-78; Index supellectilis anatomicae, quam academiae batavae, qua Leidae est, legavit vir clarissimus Jo.Jac.Rau(Leiden, 1725); De ossibus corporis humani libellus(Leiden. 1726; Vienna. 1746. 1757, 1759); Historia musculorum corporis hominis (Leiden, 1734; 2nd ed.,Frankfurt, 1784); Jac. Douglas, bibliographiae anatomicae specimen, sive catalogusomnium pene auctorum, qui ab Hippocrate ad Harvaeum rem anatomicam ex professo, vel obiter scriptis illustarunt (Leaden, 1734), the 2nd ed. of Douglas’ book, edited by Albinus; and Gull. Harvaeus, Exercitation anatomic de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus. Cui acced . ejusdem auctoris exercitationes duae anatomicae, filium and Gull. Harvaeus, Exercitationes de generatione animalium (Leiden. 1736). both vols, reissued under the title Opera, sive exercitatio anatomic de motu cords et sanguinis in animalibus. Atque exercitationes duae anatomicae de circulatione sanguinis ad Johannem Riolanum, filium. Tumque exercitationes de generations animalium (Leiden, 1737; 3rd ed.. 1753).

Also see Dissertatio de arterus et vents intestinorum hominis (Leiden,1736); Dissertatio secunda, de sede et caussa coloris Aethiopum et caeterorum hominum (Leiden,1737); Fabricius ab Aquapendente, Opera omnia anatomica et physiologia (Leiden. 1737); Icones ossium foetum humani, accedit osteogoniae brevis historia (Leaden,1737); Explicatio tabuklarum anatomicarum Barth. Eustachii (Leiden,1744); 2nd ed., 1761); Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani (Leiden, 1747), translated as Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body (London, 1749; 2nd ed., 1777); Tabulae VII uteri mulieris gravidae, cum jam parturriet mortuae (Leiden, 1748); with Appendix (Leiden. 1751); Tabulae ossium humanorum (Leiden. 1753): Academicarum annoiationum libri VIII, cant, anatomica, physiologica, zoographica, phytagraphica, pathologica etc. (Leiden. 1754-1768): Tabula vasis chyliferi, cum vena azyga, arteriis intercostalibus, aliisque vicinis partibus (Leiden, 1757); and De Sceleto humanto liber (Leiden, 1762).

II. Secondary Literature. See the following listed chronologically: P. Camper, Epistola ad anatomicorum principem magnum Albinum (Groningen, 1767); (E. Sandifort), [“Obitury B.S. Albinos”] Natutur en geneeskundige bnibilotheek,7 (1770), 671; “Levensbeschrijving van den Hoog Edlen Hooggreleerden Heer Bernahard Sieegfried Albinos,” ibid., 673-382; (J. N. S. Allasmand), “Eloge Sandifort, in Naturen geneeskundige bibilotheek,8 (1771), 701; F. Chaussier and N. P. Adelon,” i;Bernard Sifroy Albinos”, in Bigraphie universelle ancinne et moderne,I (1843), 346-347; A. J. van der Aa, “Bernard Siegfrid Albinos”, in Biografish woordenboek der Nedderlandan, I (n.d., Haarlem), 157-160; and H. Halbertsma, Oriatio de Albini anatomiae tractandae methodo comparata cum ea, quam nostra temporasibi desposcunt (Leiden-Amsterdam, 1848; 2nd ed., Leipzing , 1931).

Also see G. C. B Suringer, “De school van Bernard Siegfried Albinos”, in Nederlandsch tijdsschrift voor geneeskunde,2 (1867)., 1-21; D. Lubach, “Bernhard Siegfrid Albinos,” in Album der natutur,36 (1887), 1-16; and “s bereffende Siegfrid Albinos”, in Nieuw Nederlandsch biografish woodenboek, IV (1918), 2-24; M. Villaret and F. Moniler, “Un seeai d’anatomie ’dynamique’ au XVIII sup (e) siecle; les Tabulae sceleti et musculorum d’Albinos,” in Bulletin de la Societe francaise d’historie de la medecine,15 (1921), 205-212; J. C. van der Klaauw, “A Letter of B.S. Albinos From Leaden to R. Nesbitt,” ibid.,26 (1932), 1-26; J. A. J. Barge,“Het geneeskundig onderwijs aan de Leidsche Unjiversiteit in de 18 sup(de) eeuw” in Bijdargen tot de geschiedenis der gheneeskunde,14 (1934), 1-12; and E.D. Bauman, Drie eeiuwen Nederlandsche Geneeskunde (Amsterdam, 1950), 250.

Perter W. vander Pas