The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
He could be called the Vesalius of equine anatomy. For 18 months during
1756-1758 he lived in an isolated farmhouse in the village of Horkstow near
Hull in northern England, while he painstakingly dissected horse cadavers
obtained from the local tannery. His only assistant was his life companion,
Mary Spencer, at the time in her teens. Beginning with the hide, he proceeded,
like Vesalius, methodically to dissect each layer, exposing the successive
anatomical structures until he had bared the skeleton. At each step he documented
his work with meticulous drawings, of which 42 survive. As Vesalius had done
more than two centuries earlier, he published his findings in a book, The Anatomy of the Horse, with 18 engraved plates of the
drawings and 50 000 words of scientific text, all from his own hand.
His name was George Stubbs (1724-1806). Not only was he a superb technician
in the execution of his dissections, he was a true scientist in his careful
and ordered observations. He was also an artist, in the opinion of most, the
finest horse painter ever.
Southgate MT. Lustre, Held by a Groom. JAMA. 2005;293(10):1169. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1169