Gemini, Thomas (DNB00)

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GEMINI, GEMINIE, or GEMINUS, THOMAS (fl. 1540–1560), engraver and printer, was the author of a compendium of anatomy, with copper-plate engravings by himself. The work, entitled ‘Compendiosa totius Anatomie delineatio,’ is an abridgment of Vesalius's great work on anatomy published at Basle in 1543. The illustrations in the text are copied from the woodcuts after Van Calcar's drawings in that work. The first edition was published in 1545, with a dedication to Henry VIII, which is signed ‘tuæ Majestati semper mancipatissimus Thomas Geminus Lysiensis, Londini Quarto Calendas Octobres Anno 1545.’ It has not yet been discovered whence Geminus came, the word ‘Lysiensis’ having hitherto baffled the most learned investigations (see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 360, 435, 516, ix. 6, 5th ser. xi. 37, 117, 139, 153). This first edition (published by John Herford) contains a very elaborate frontispiece, lightly but firmly engraved, with allegorical figures surrounding the royal arms in the centre. The engravings are among the earliest copper-plate engravings known in England, having apparently been preceded only by the plates to Raynald's ‘Byrthe of Mankynde’ in 1540, which have been sometimes also attributed to Gemini. In 1553 Gemini published a translation of his compendium, made by Nicholas Udall [q. v.] and others, with a dedication to Edward VI, in which he speaks of himself as ‘not so perfeict and experte in the English tonge that I dare waraunt or trust myne owne dooynges,’ and also as by the king's ‘most gracious bountie’ having his ‘livyng and beyng here.’ The same plates and title-page accompany this edition, which was printed by Nycholas Hyll. In 1559 Gemini published a third edition, this time dedicated to Elizabeth, who had just ascended the throne; it was revised by Richard Eden. The same plates are here used again, with the addition of a large folding woodcut by another artist, which is sometimes met with separately, and was incorporated by Gemini into his own work. The same title-page also occurs, only the royal arms have been removed from the centre, and a portrait of Elizabeth (the earliest after her succession) inserted. This edition Gemini printed himself, having set up a press in Blackfriars. Gemini's anatomical plates passed into the possession of André Wechel, a publisher at Paris, who used them for a similar work published there in 1569. In 1553 Gemini published for Leonard Digges [q. v.] his ‘Prognostication of right good effect,’ and in 1556 his ‘Tectonicon,’ a work on mensuration. This work is stated to be ‘Imprented at London in ye Blackfriers by Thomas Gemine, who is ther ready exactly to make all the Instruments apertaining to thes booke.’ A later edition appeared in 1562. In 1559 he engraved a portrait of Mary (an impression was sold in Sir J. Winter Lake's collection, March 1808). Ortelius, in his ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,’ published in 1570, refers to Gemini in London as the source from which he obtained the map of Spain in that work. Two notices of him occur in the register-books of the Stationers' Company, one in 1554 recording a fine inflicted on ‘Thomas Gemyne, stranger,’ for transgressing the rules. In the collection levied for Bridewell his name appears as a subscriber of twenty pence, a large sum in those days, showing him to have been a man of substantial position. Gemini is usually supposed to have been an Italian; the frontispiece to the ‘Anatomy’ mentioned above shows an unmistakably Italian character, that of the early woodcut engravings produced in Venice in the half-century before this book. Portions of the design, however, present some of the features of French engravings, executed in the manner and with the spirit of the Italian Renaissance (a facsimile will be found in Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell's ‘Engraved Portraiture of the Sixteenth Century’). On the other hand the anatomical plates, though mere copies of the Basle woodcuts, show the hand of an engraver trained in Italy. It has been suggested that the frontispiece is by a different hand, and of the school of Fontainebleau (Fisher, Catalogue of a Collection of Engravings, &c., p. 309); it bears, however, a distinct statement that it was engraved by Gemini, and the portrait, inserted in 1559, is obviously the work of the same engraver. If Gemini designed the frontispiece himself, he was an artist of some merit. There does not seem any ground for supposing that he was a surgeon. Vesalius's book was so famous that the piracy of the text and plates was an easy and profitable undertaking.

[Ames and Herbert's Typographical Antiquities, ii. 872; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painters, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 5910 (Bagford), pt. iv. p. 165; Arber's Transcript of the Registers of the Stationers' Company; Brunet's Manuel du Libraire (sub voce ‘Vesalius’); Gemini's own works and others referred to in the text.]

L. C.