Published when the author was only 29 years old, the Fabrica revolutionized not only the science of anatomy but how it was taught. Throughout this encylopedic work on the structure and workings of the human body, Vesalius provided a fuller and more detailed description of the human anatomy than any of his predecessors, correcting errors in the traditional anatomical teachings of Galen. Even more epochal than his criticism of Galen and other medieval authorities was Vesalius’s assertion that the dissection of cadavers must be performed by the physician himself.
As revolutionary as the contents of the Fabrica and the anatomical discoveries which it published, was its unprecedented blending of scientific exposition, art and typography. The title page and series of woodcut musclemen remain the most famous anatomical illustrations of all time. The artist or artists responsible for these masterworks has been the source of continuing scholarly speculation for centuries. The latest interpretation follows the traditional view that many of the woodcuts were drawn by Jan van Calcar, and that some of the smaller, less artistic ones were drawn by Vesalius. In The illustrations from the works of Andreas Vesalius (1950) Saunders and O’Malley published reduced versions of all the illustrations from Vesalius’s writings, with a commentary and biographical sketch. The standard biography is C.D. O’Malley, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, Berkeley, 1964. Harvey Cushing’s classic Biobibliography of Andreas Vesalius (1943) appeared in a second edition, Hamden, Conn., 1962. See also the dated but classic work, M. Roth, Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis, Berlin, Reimer, 1892; reprinted Amsterdam,1965. The complete first edition of the Fabrica was first translated into English by William Richardson and John Burd Carman as On the Fabric of the Human Body. A Translation of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem. 5 vols. San Francisco & Novato: Norman Publishing, 1998-2009. In 2014 Karger of Basel published in 2 vols. The Fabric of the Human Body. An Annotated Translation of the 1543 and 1555 Editions with Vesalius' Own Notes for a Never Published Third Edition by D.H. Garrison and M.H. Hast.
For further information on the 1543 edition see HistoryofInformation.com at this link.