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The Cover
March 9, 2005

Lustre, Held by a Groom

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(10):1169. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1169

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.

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