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2020-09-25 19:59:02
Rowlandson, Thomas
[Franz Joseph Gall leading a discussion on phrenology among his extensive collection of skulls and model heads]
[London], circa 1808. Large etching with aquatint and watercolour (platemark, 245 x 195 mm; sheet, 30.5 x 22.5 cm.). Signed in-plate by Rowlandson to lower left. Remarkably well-preserved, with very light crease to upper left corner and trace remnants of earlier paste to edges of verso. Very light foxing to margins of sheet, not affecting print; colours remain vibrant. Title taken from Wellcome record. The twenty-first century obsession with the brain, its imaging, and the general appetite for all things "neuro," belies the fact that the first systematic attempt to gain knowledge of this organ-of-organs was met foremost with derision. As Gall, and later Spurzheim, struggled to find their position within scientific and moral discourses (first reaching for the banners of "organology" and "craniology," before finally settling on phrenology, as the science of Mind), it was the caricaturists of the long-18th century who seized upon their basic tenet: that the shape of the brain can be read through the shape of the skull; most-often disparaging the new science as "bumpology." There's perhaps no better example of this strategy than with this oft-referenced (but scarcely-held) caricature from Rowlandson. Bumps abound: on the skulls of Gall and his adepts, but also in their bellies and cysts. To further drive his critique (of dilettantism versus science), Rowlandson includes the ultimate symbol of the Renaissance cabinet of curiosities: the crocodile; the only one of the depicted creatures who stares directly at the viewer. With only 2 OCLC and Library Hub records discovered (Wellc … [Click Below for Full Description]
Bookseller: Etc. [Canada]
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