John Banister, The Surgeon: (1533-1610)


Company of ‘Barber Surgeons’


In 1540 Henry VIII licensed the Company of Barber Surgeons to anatomise the bodies of four criminals a year, and from 1557 attendance at these dissections was made compulsory for members of the Company.


John Banister was admitted to the Company in 1572 soon afterwards becoming their Lecturer in Anatomy.


Banister has been called ‘the turnkey who released anatomy [in England] from its mediaeval bondage into the daylight of the Renaissance’ (Buckland-Wright 1985).

The influence of contemporary continental anatomy is evident in his teaching from the octavo second edition of the De re anatomica..., (Paris, 1562) by Realdo Colombo. Colombo was an assistant to Vesalius at the University of Padua and subsequently succeeded him.


Frontispiece painting commissioned by John Banister Ca 1580

In the first of this series of paintings we see John Banister delivering an anatomical lecture at the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall.

The two anatomical masters stand beside him, one holding a scalpel, the other a probe. On the opposite side of the table are the two stewards wearing their white protective sleeves.

He is shown teaching from the octavo second edition of the De re anatomica... (Paris, 1562) by Realdo Colombo.


Educational Paintings Procured by John Banister:

Painting commissioned by John Banister Ca 1580.
Shows the anatomical instruments and the order in which they were during a dissections, together with pictures of an ape and a dog with a pig on the dissecting table.


Painting commissioned by John Banister Ca 1580,
This picture is exhibiting a lateral aspect of the skeleton, along with the articulations of the hand and foot, femur, skull and mandible.

Follow link for the source of these pictures & further matters of interest;    [Ms Hunter 364, V.1.1]