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Canano [Canani, Cannano], Giovanni Battista

1. Dates
Born: Ferrara, 1515
Died: Ferrara, 29 Jan. 1579
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 64
2. Father
Occupation: Lawyer
His father, Ludovico Canano, was a notary. His grandfather was lecturer in medicine at Ferrara and physician at court. The family came to Italy from Greece in the 15th century.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italy
Career: Italy, France
Death: Italy
4. Education
Schooling: Ferrara; MD, Ph.D.
Canano matriculated at the University of Ferrara in 1534, and graduated (i.e., a doctorate) in philosophy and medicine in 1543.
While he was at the university, Canano, together with his cousin Anton Maria Canano, held an anatomical academy in their home which was attended by the leading physicians of the city and even by the Duke.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
His brother was a Cardinal.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy
Subordinate: Surgery
His only published work was Musculorum humani corporis picturata dissectio, c. 1543, a small book but of outstanding importance for its originality. Based exclusively on direct observation of structures of the human body and of living animals, the Picturata dissectio contained the first anatomical drawings of the lumbricales and of the interossei of the hand, and the first description and drawing of the short palmar muscle and of the oblique head of the adductor pollicis, which Vesalius did not observe and which was unknown to Galen.
Another important contribution by Canano was the observation of the valves of the deep veins, and the assertion that they serve to prevent the reflux of the blood.
His book on muscles was intended as the first volume of a major work on the whole of anatomy, but Vesalius' De fabrica forestalled him.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Patronage
Secondary: Government, Medicine
Lecturer in practical medicine and in surgery at the University of Ferrara, 1543-1552. Ducceschi says that the appointment began in 1541. He was also medical attendant on the Este family.
Physician to Francesco d'Este in France, 1544.
Physician to Pope Julius III, 1552-1555. The Pope loaded him with the fruits of ecclesiastical benefices.
Chief physician of the Este principality, 1555-1579, that is, physician to the Este and protomedico of the state. He was also professor of anatomy at the university. He was held in sufficient regard that in 1576 he was exempted from all taxes.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat
The Este. See above.
Pope Juluis III. See above.
He dedicated his Picturata dissectio to Bartolomeo Nigrisoli, a Ferrarese patrician and professor at the university.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Instruments
He invented instruments for certain surgeries.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
He received several visits from Andreas Vesalius in his home in 1540, and when he met Vesalius again in 1544 he told him about his observation of the valves of deep veins.
He was Prior of the Medical College of Ferrara.
  1. V.Ducceschi, "Giambattista Canano", in Gli scienziati italiani, 1, pt. 2 (1923), pp. 285-292.
  2. G. Muratori, "Canano, Giovanni Battista," Dizionario biografico degli italiani.
  3. Pietro Capparoni, Profili bio-bibliografici di medici e naturalisti celebri italiani dal sec. XV al sec. XVII, 2 vols. (Rome, 1925-28), 2, 43-5. In the copy I have, vol. 1 is from the second ed, (1932) and vol. 2 from the first (1928). I gather that pagination in the two editions is not identical.
  4. Gaetano Luigi Marini, Degli archiatri pontifici, 2 vols. (Roma, 1784), 1, 247, 392, 395, 399-402, and 416. Prosper Mandosius, Theatrum in quo maximorum christiani orbis pontificum archiatros spectandos exhibit, a separately paginated inclusion at the end of vol. 2 of Marini, (Roma, 1784), pp. 72-5.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. G. Muratori and D. Bighi, "A. Vesalio, G.B. Canano e la rivoluzione rinascimentale dell'anatomia e della medicina" in Acta medicae historiae patavina, 10 (1964), pp.51-95.
  2. G. Muratori and A. Franceschini, "Nuovi documenti riguardanti l'attivita dell'anatomico ferrarese G.B. Canano", in Atti e memorie Deputazione provinciale ferrarese di storia patria, 3, (1966), pp.89-132. Note that Muratori wrote the article on Canano, which postdates both of these articles, in DBI.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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