University of Hertfordshire

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Description

 William Harvey’s Padova in Ten Objects

The aim of this collaborative project is to create an exhibition, to be held in both London and Padova, commemorating and explaining the role of Padova in the work of William Harvey, and supported by a monograph providing in-depth discussions of each object, and serving as an exhibition catalogue, to be published by University of Padova Press in English and Italian. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) will host the Exhibition in 2020, and the University of Padova (UP) intends to use the Exhibition for its 800th anniversary in 2022 as a showcase of its international reputation.The purpose of this grant is to enable the investigators to work on relevant materials in the Welcome Collection, and the archives of RCP and UP.

 The ten objects are:

Harvey’s diploma (RCP)
Harvey’s Stemmae (UP)
Padova Anatomical Theatre (UP)
Donatello, The Miracle of the Usurer’s Heart (Basilica di San Antonio, Padova)
Fabricius’s Opera Physica Anatomica  (Lilley Library, Indiana)
Fallopius’ Opera quae adhuc extant omnia in unurn congesta (RCP)
‘Harvey’s Tables’(RCP)
The San Francesco Hospital, Padova  (Museo di Storia della Medicino in Padova)
Padova Botanical garden (UP)
Colour Plate of Fabricius (Veins of the Arm) (Biblioteca Marciano, Venice)

Layman's description

The purpose of this grant is to enable the investigators to work on materials relevant to William Harvey’s Padova experience in the Welcome Collection, the archive of the Royal College of Physicians, the Marciana Library in Venice, and the libraries of the University of Padova. The lead investigator has already spent one month as Visiting Scientist at the University of Padova working on Harvey, and identified research questions and sources to be consulted. The aim of this collaborative project is to create an exhibition, to be held in both London and Padova, commemorating and explaining the role of Padova in the work of William Harvey, and supported by (1) a monograph providing in-depth discussions of each object, to ova published by University of Padova Press in English and Italian and (2) an exhibition catalogue aimed at the general public. The University of Padova (UP) intends to use the exhibition for its 800th anniversary in 2022 as a showcase of its international reputation. The other partner is the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which is currently hosting an exhibition on Harvey as part of its anniversary commemorations, and is keen to supplement this in 2020 in a further exhibition by capturing objects and data on other early modern Padovan medical graduates who played a role in the formation of the college. This grant will support preliminary work on Harvey and Padova in preparation for both exhibitions.

The collections to be explored are rich in early editions of Harvey’s work, and the works of other significant medical writers associated with Padova, such as Vesalius, Fabricius, Fallopius etc. Of particular interest are the Evan Bedford Library of Cardiology at the RCP, and the Marciana Library in Venice which holds colour plates for an unpublished medical atlas by Fabricius..



The project has the support of Dr Simon Bowman (RCP Harveian Librarian at the RCP) and Kristin Hussey, RCP curator responsible for the 2018 exhibition Ceaseless Motion: William Harvey’s Experiments in Circulation. The University of Padova has already funded preliminary work in the form of the lead investigator’s tenure as Visiting Scientist (September 2017). University of Padova staff (Professor Gaetano Thiene and Dr. Daniella Marrone) with specialist knowledge of Harvey, experience of collaboration with the RCP, and a track record of conferences and publications on Harvey and other early modern English students at Padua are keen to organise the exhibition in 2022.

The methodology used is that pioneered by Neil McGregor in the British Museum’s project A History of the World in 100 Objects,[1] and later applied in a Victoria and Albert Museum enterprise to Shakespeare.[2] This methodology was developed specifically in museum contexts, targeted at exhibitions as well as media and print dissemination, but is also a useful tool for cultural materialist analysis of historical context.

The objects selected as a framework for discussing William Harvey are all still surviving and accessible. In 1600-2 they constituted the lived material context mediating between Harvey’s medical education and his historical environment. Today they are still there, to be seen, some unchanged and some altered, but all giving us uniquely privileged access to a significant moment of early modern history.

The ten objects are:

Harvey’s diploma (RCP)
Harvey’s Stemma (UP)
Padova Anatomical Theatre (UP)
Donatello, The Miracle of the Usurer’s Heart (Basilica di San Antonio, Padova)
Fabricius’s Opera Physica Anatomica  (Lilley Library, Indiana)
Fallopius’ Opera quae adhuc extant omnia in unurn congesta (RCP)
‘Harvey’s Tables’(RCP)
The San Francesco Hospital, Padova  (Museo di Storia della Medicino in Padova)
Padova Botanical garden (UP)
Colour Plate of Fabricius (Veins of the Arm) (Biblioteca Marciano, Venice)
The exhibition would use the original objects available in each location, for example the Diploma, Harvey’s copy of Fallopius and ‘Harvey’s Tables’ from the Royal College of Physicians, and in Padova the Stemma, Anatomical Theatre, Donatello’s relief, San Francesco Hospital and Botanical Garden. Other objects such as Harvey’s copy of Fabricius, and a sample of the Fabricius colour plates, would if possible be borrowed.  Failing that, copies are available: the Victoria and Albert Museum has an excellent 19th century reproduction of the Donatello; the Marciana Library in Venice has digitised Fabricius’ plates (normally available only in the MS Room but in principle portable), and so on. In London the immovable Paduova objects would be represented by images, models, photographs, video etc., and if necessary vice versa.

The monograph will present in-depth discussions of each object, informed by the most recent research, and aimed at an academic and professional readership. The Exhibition Catalogue will summarise such discussions and present them in accessible form for the general public. The Exhibitions will be hosted in central urban locations (RCP and MuSME).

Example: among the 169 oil-painted anatomical illustrations for an uncompleted ‘atlas’, commissioned by Fabricius and willed to the Marciana Library in Venice, there is a plate showing the veins of the arm. This corresponds exactly to the monochrome plates published in Fabricius’s De Venarum Ostiolis showing the veins of the arm in a living man, and copied by Harvey for De Motu Cordis. Juxtaposing these images facilitates a debate about anatomical illustration and depiction, artistic realism, and the apparently opposed, but actually complementary, views of Fabricius and Harvey on the role of pictures in the study of anatomy.

An international academic conference to be held in Padova in 2021/2 will gather specialists from UK and several other countries for an advanced debate on Harvey and Padua. Members will be exposed to a ‘rehearsal’ of the Exhibition to secure expert feedback and advice. The public impact of these activities will extend advanced understanding of the international character and significance of Harvey’s revolutionary discoveries, and the role of Padova in facilitating them.



[1] British Museum and Radio 4 series and linked exhibition, A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010), and the associated book Neil McGregor, A History of the World in 100 Objects (London: Allen Lane, 2010).

[2] Jane Birkett (ed.), Shakespeare in 100 Objects: Treasures from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: Nick Hern Books, 2013).
Short titleWilliam Harvey's Padova
AcronymWHP
StatusActive
Period1/06/1831/05/19

ID: 13534798