King's College London
Online Exhibitions
To scrutinize the whole of Nature: The Royal Society and its fellows 1660-1730

Marcello Malpighi

Various stages in the development of a chicken embryo, from Marcello Malpighi'sOpera omnia. Londini: apud Robertum Scott, 1686 [Guy’s Hospital Physical Society Collection FOL. QH9 MAL]Various stages in the development of a chicken embryo, from Marcello Malpighi'sOpera omnia. Londini: apud Robertum Scott, 1686 [Guy’s Hospital Physical Society Collection FOL. QH9 MAL]The research of Marcello Malpighi (1628-94) in physiology and anatomy was recognised by the Royal Society in 1667, when it undertook to publish his future work. In 1669 he became the first Italian to be elected a Fellow of the Society. When a fire destroyed his microscopes in 1684, the Royal Society compensated him and sent him new lenses.

Through his expertise in microscopy, Malpighi was able to complete Harvey’s theory of blood circulation by discovering capillaries between arteries and veins in the lung. He conducted significant research on sensory receptors in the nervous system; postulated a sensory mechanism in the tongue; and discovered red corpuscles in the blood. However, he has also become well known for his embryological research which, with the contemporaneous work of Swammerdam, exploded the theory of spontaneous generation.

His research on the embryology of chickens (as illustrated here) proceeded from an analogy with the artisan who ‘in building machines must first manufacture the individual parts, so that the pieces are first seen separately, which must then be fitted together.’

ARCHIOS™ | Total time:0.2148 s | Source:cache