16th-century leaf with four illustrations of conjoined twins from Ambroise Paré’s Monsters
Paris: Chez G Boun, 1585. This leaf (M.XXV-M.XXVI) measures approximately 8.25” x 12.5” and came from the 1585 printing of Les Oeuvres d’Ambroise . . . Des Monstres. The images are strong. The leaf has some minor soiling and edge-wear. The four images on this leaf show (roughly translated from Paré ‘s French) 1) A monstrous child having two head, two arms, and four legs, 2) Twins joined together with one head, 3) Two female twins joined together by their fore-heads, and 4) The shape of infants recently born in Paris. In an explanation of why such conjoined births may occur, Paré notes (again in very rough translation) that “Philosophers who have written about monsters believe that regular twins are caused by an excess of seed in copulation than is need for one regular birth. Likewise, this also causes the births such as these and births with superfluous parts.”. Item #008741
Paré, the French royal surgeon for many years, was the preeminent surgeon of his time and is considered one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology as well as a pioneer of surgical techniques, battlefield medicine, and prosthetic design. He additionally had a scholarly interest in natural history, especially reports of “miraculous” or “monstrous” creatures and malformed births.