Born Today – Govard Bidloo

Govard Bidloo
Govard Bidloo

Govert or Govard Bidloo (Amsterdam, 12 March 1649 – Leiden, 30 March 1713) was a surgeon, anatomist, court physician, professor, writer of stage work and librettist. Around 1670 he was initially trained as surgeon as a pupil of the anatomist Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731)

Bidloo studied medicine and graduated at the University of Franeker on May 8, 1682. In 1688 he became lecturer in dissection and anatomy in ‘s Gravenhage (The Hague). In 1690 he was head of the Dutch health service then three years later in England. During the visit of Stadholder Willem III to The Hague (February 1691) for talks with the anti-French League, Bidloo published  Departing from his Majesty William III, King of Great Britanje etc. in Holland. Romeyn de Hooghe designed a large number of decorations and made the prints in the book. In 1690 Bidloo and Romeyn de Hoogheproduced a number of pamphlets against the mayors of the city of Amsterdam. Bidloo lived in Golden Bay, at Herengracht 455.

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In 1694  Bidloo was professor of surgery and anatomy at the University of Leiden until 1701 when he was inivited to be court physician by King Willem III in London . The Stadholder king died in his arms (or those of Hans Willem Bentinck?). In 1702 he was again professor in Leiden, where he died March 30, 1713. Bidloo was succeeded by Herman Boerhaave.

Nicolaes Bidloo, his son, became personal physician to Peter the Great in 1702.

Govard Bidloo published Anatomia Humani Corporis (Dissection of the Human Body) in Amsterdam in1685. For the time, the book was considered an innovative anatomical atlas, with beautiful drawings by Gerard de Lairesse.

(All information and images adapted from the Dutch and English versions of Wikipedia)

The Legacy of Reinier de Graaf

Reinier de Graaf
Reinier de Graaf

It has been sometime since I have posted – recent changes in my life situation have left me somewhat pre-occupied. For now here is a link to a paper on Reinier de Graaf, the doctor who first introduced Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society in London:

In the second half of the 17th century, a young Dutch physician and anatomist left a lasting legacy in medicine. Reinier (also spelled Regner and Regnier) de Graaf (1641–1673), in a short but extremely productive life, made remarkable contributions to medicine. He unraveled the mysteries of the human reproductive system, and his name remains irrevocably associated with the ovarian follicle.

De Graaf was born in Schoonhaven, Holland. After studying in Utrecht, Holland, De Graaf started at the famous Leiden University. As a student, De Graaf helped Johannes van Horne in the preparation of anatomical specimens. He became known for using a syringe to inject liquids and wax into blood vessels. At Leiden, he also studied under the legendary Franciscus Sylvius.

See The Legacy of Reinier de Graaf by Venita Jay, MD, FRCPC, for the complete paper.

(Image from Wikipedia Commons)

Born Today – Jan Swammerdam

From Today in Science History:

Jan Swammerdam. Born 12 Feb 1637; died 15 Feb 1680.
Dutch naturalist, known for his skilled biological microscopical observations and accurate illustrations, who was the first to describe the red blood cells (1658). He studied and illustrated the life histories and anatomy of many species of insects, which he classified on the basis of development. He demonstrated the presence of butterfly wings in caterpillars about to undergo pupation. To facilitate the study of human anatomy, he developed better methods for injecting wax and dyes into cadavers. He was one of the first to dissect under water and to remove fat by organic solvents. He demonstrated experimentally that whereas muscles alter in shape during contraction, their volume is not thereby increased, which contradicted beliefs of the time.

Why Leeuwenhoek?

As an amateur microscopist I have long known of the contribution that Antoni van Leeuwenhoek made to the science of microbiology. During my last summer holiday my family and I were able to visit Delft, the city of my father. I was hoping to find a museum to commemorate the man and his great contribution to history. I was soon to be disappointed – except for a few faded panels and his grave markers there is little in Delft to show what a magnificent force he was in the early scientific world.

I want to use this blog to highlight the influence of Leeuwenhoek and the other scientists of Holland’s Golden Age. These early pioneers still influence our thoughts, inform our reason and delight us with their tenacity. It was people such as these that created the period we know as the Renaissance, the precursor to the Enlightenment – where scholasticism and faith give way to experimental science and reason. This blog will serve as an on-line museum and a central dispersion point for information on the Dutch Golden Age of Science.

The painting (1681) shows the Delft anatomist Cornelis s’Gravesande (1631 – 1691), as he gives a lesson. On his right is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. Painting by Cornelis de Man (1621 – 1706). The painting hangs in Het Prinsenhof, Delft.