"Landmark reforms in the humane treatment of the mentally ill"

[Chiarugi, Vincenzo]. Regolamento dei Regi Spedali di Santa Maria Nuova e di Bonifazio.

Florence, Gaetano Cambiagi, 1789.

4to. LXXVIII, (2), 416, (84) pp., including 27 letterpress tables. With engraved armorial title vignette and 9 (instead of 10) engraved folding plates. Contemporary half vellum over marbled boards with giltstamped calf spine label.


First edition of the pioneering regulations for two Florence hospitals, marking "the first appearance in print of [Chiarugi's] landmark reforms in the humane treatment of the mentally ill" (Garrison/M.).

In 1774 Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Tuscany (later Emperor Leopold II) promulgated Europe's first law concerning the hospitalization of persons recognized as being insane, and several years later he undertook to build a new hospital for the mentally ill. In 1875 the young physician Vincenzo Chiarugi, who had studied at the University of Pisa and then at the hospital of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, was given responsibility to plan the new hospital of San Bonifacio, which opened in 1788. The following year the regulations of the hospital were published, together with the statutes of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. The regulations reflect Chiarugi's pioneering attitude towards the treatment of the insane: "A detailed history was required for each patient admitted to the hospital. The hospital was built to meet high hygienic standards, men were separated from women, and the rooms and furniture offered full protection to the patients [...] under no circumstances could force be used on patients, and the only methods of restriction allowed were strait jackets and strips of reinforced cotton, in order to prevent impairment in the patient's circulation" (Mora).

The fine plates, carried out by G. Cecchi, G. Salvetti and others, include plans of the premises of both hospitals, images of the kitchen and heating system, and views of the facade, as well as an organisational chart for both hospitals combined.

Lacks the engraved frontispiece. Extremities and spine-label slightly rubbed; small defect to vellum at lower spine. Front view of the Bonifazio hospital with a larger tear; several plates show small tears, occasionally affecting image. Occasional light foxing throughout. A good copy of this landmark work.


Garrison/M. 4920.2. Norman 474. G. Mora, "Vincenzo Chiarugi", in: Journal of the History of Medicine 14 (1959), p. 431.

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