Three plates from the first full-color anatomical atlas—Jacques Fabien Gautier d'Agoty's Myologie (1746–48). Plate 1: a partially dissected female, the skin removed from the legs, arm and breast, and the intestines removed to reveal the uterus. Plate 2: a partially dissected male with the left side of his chest removed to reveal his heart. Plate 3: a skeleton, some of the nerves and arteries of the limbs and neck, and the brain and spinal cord. Illustrations by D.A.P.

Three plates from the first full-color anatomical atlas—Jacques Fabien Gautier d'Agoty's Myologie (1746–48). Plate 1: a partially dissected female, the skin removed from the legs, arm and breast, and the intestines removed to reveal the uterus. Plate 2: a partially dissected male with the left side of his chest removed to reveal his heart. Plate 3: a skeleton, some of the nerves and arteries of the limbs and neck, and the brain and spinal cord.

Illustrations by D.A.P.

One of the challenges for 19th century physicians was distinguishing leprosy from other conditions—particularly the various forms of tuberculosis. The man on the left is labeled 'tubercular leprosy.' The woman on the right has a skin disease labelled 'crusting leprosy', but she more likely has a form of ichthyosis, a genetic skin disorder. Illustration D.A.P.

One of the challenges for 19th century physicians was distinguishing leprosy from other conditions—particularly the various forms of tuberculosis. The man on the left is labeled

'tubercular leprosy.'

The woman on the right has a skin disease labelled 'crusting leprosy', but she more likely has a form of ichthyosis, a genetic skin disorder.

Illustration D.A.P.

In 1796 Edward Jenner carried out a test of his cowpox hypothesis—the idea that a case of the (mild) disease cowpox could prevent infection with smallpox. He called the technique vaccination. These engravings, from John Ring's Treatise on the Cowpox show the development of cowpox vesicles over about three weeks. Illustration D.A.P.

In 1796 Edward Jenner carried out a test of his cowpox hypothesis—the idea that a case of the (mild) disease cowpox could prevent infection with smallpox. Taking pus from sores on a local milkmaid, he pushed it into a cut in the skin of an eight-year-old boy. The boy developed cowpox, but recovered. He called the technique vaccination. These engravings, from John Ring's Treatise on the Cowpox show the development of cowpox vesicles over about three weeks.

Illustration D.A.P.

Hand-drawn and textured pages from a Japanese treatise on smallpox, The Essentials of Smallpox, written in the late 17th or early 18th century by the Japanese doctor Kanda Gensen. These remarkable illustrations—which are not recognizably part of the Western tradition of anatomical and pathological illustration—offer a very different way of depicting disease, one that invokes touch as much as sight. Illustration D.A.P.

Hand-drawn and textured pages from a Japanese treatise on smallpox, The Essentials of Smallpox, written in the late 17th or early 18th century by the Japanese doctor Kanda Gensen. These remarkable illustrations—which are not recognizably part of the Western tradition of anatomical and pathological illustration—offer a very different way of depicting disease, one that invokes touch as much as sight.

Illustration D.A.P.

A 23-year-old Viennese woman, depicted before and after contracting cholera in the first European epidemic in 1831. According to the original caption, the second image shows her only an hour after contracting the disease, and she died four hours later. Illustration D.A.P.

A 23-year-old Viennese woman, depicted before and after contracting cholera in the first European epidemic in 1831. According to the original caption, the second image shows her only an hour after contracting the disease, and she died four hours later.

Illustration D.A.P.

In 1835 the American physician Peter Parker opened a hospital in the Chinese city of Canton. For five years he commissioned gouache paintings from the painter Lam Qua, depicting patients at the hospital. These patients all have different kinds of tumors. Illustration D.A.P.

In 1835 the American physician Peter Parker opened a hospital in the Chinese city of Canton. For five years he commissioned gouache paintings from the painter Lam Qua, depicting patients at the hospital. These patients all have different kinds of tumors.

Illustration D.A.P.

These engravings from English physician William Harvey's De Motu Cordis (1628) formed a central part of Harvey's demonstration that the blood circulates and that the heart is a pump. Illustration D.A.P.

These engravings from English physician William Harvey's De Motu Cordis (1628) formed a central part of Harvey's demonstration that the blood circulates and that the heart is a pump.

Illustration D.A.P.

For early modern physicians, syphilis was a disease that mystified with the sheer range of its symptoms and the length of time it might take to show itself. The victim might suffer rashes, bone-aches, heart problems, fever, hair loss, the destruction of soft tissues and bone, particularly around the face and larynx, dementia and death. These drawings show syphilitic malformations of the permanent teeth, a sign of congenital syphilis. Illustration D.A.P.

For early modern physicians, syphilis was a disease that mystified with the sheer range of its symptoms and the length of time it might take to show itself. The victim might suffer rashes, bone-aches, heart problems, fever, hair loss, the destruction of soft tissues and bone, particularly around the face and larynx, dementia and death. These drawings show syphilitic malformations of the permanent teeth, a sign of congenital syphilis.

Illustration D.A.P.

Watercolor drawing of the left hand of a 63-year-old woman suffering from chronic gout. Illustration D.A.P.

Watercolor drawing of the left hand of a 63-year-old woman suffering from chronic gout.

Illustration D.A.P.

Magnified views of parasites and vectors. Left: A female flea, Pulex irritans, and the bacterium responsible for bubonic plague, now known as Yersinia pestis. Center: The larva and fly of the Congo floor maggot. Right: The larva and fly of a species of blow fly. Illustration D.A.P.

Magnified views of parasites and vectors. Left: A female flea, Pulex irritans, and the bacterium responsible for bubonic plague, now known as Yersinia pestis. Center: The larva and fly of the Congo floor maggot. Right: The larva and fly of a species of blow fly.

Illustration D.A.P.

In the 19th century, doctors couldn't use photographs to teach their students to distinguish between benign or cancerous growths. Or how teeth looked in patients affected by hereditary syphilis. Or the stages of cholera.

So the physicians, surgeons, and anatomists of the 1800s built close relationships with artists, craftsmen, and publishers to produce beautiful (yet horrifically off-putting at times) illustrations. In The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration, Richard Barnett collects up the best examples of these images. They—and the accompanying chapters of text, organized by disease—are endlessly fascinating.

Excerpted from The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration, by Richard Barnett, published this month by Distributed Art Publishers.