Art and Photography

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersGreat Hiking Trails of the WorldH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaHow Art WorksI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNot My ShameNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPortraits of ResiliencePostmodernismprettycitynewyorkPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlayRXSame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe PervertThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?Why Comics?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
The Art of MedicineReview - The Art of Medicine
Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination
by Julie Anderson, Emm Barnes, and Emma Shackleton
University Of Chicago Press, 2012
Review by Jacob Stegenga
Jul 22nd 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 30)

Art has long played a role in representing aspects of medicine. The Art of Medicine is a coffee-table book which presents highlights from one of the world's great holdings of medical art, from the Wellcome Collection, a museum founded in 2007 in London. This museum is part of the Wellcome Trust, originally founded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome in 1936, now one of the world's largest non-governmental providers of funds for biomedical research. Sir Henry (1853-1936) collected a massive number of artworks, including books, sculptures, prints, and paintings, and the Wellcome Collection has added more recent works of art to the collection in recent years. This book presents selections from the collection.

I refer to many of the images presented in the book in this review. The Wellcome Collection has made many of these images available to view and download, on this site:

If I refer to a particular work and you wish to view it, just put the artist's name or the work's title in the search bar.

One of the most striking features of this book is its display of the collection's breadth. As one would expect with such a collection, classic prints representing the development and tribulations of modern western medicine are included.  For example, a famous print from Goya is displayed ('Of What Illness Will He Die?', c. 1797) as is one of Vesalius ('Skeleton, Side View', 1543). But so are many pieces representing the long and diverse history of medicine. Here are a few examples: an image of 'Chinese Acupuncture Charts' (18th century); images derived from medieval herbal textbooks, such as 'Angelica' (from 'Herbal extracted from Dodoneaus'); a 17th century Tibetan bloodletting chart ('Bloodletting Points and Moxa Points on the Human Body'), and a painting of an Indian Ayurvedic physician ('Man of the Medical Caste', c. 1825).

The artworks are presented in chapters unified around particular themes. Chapter One, for example, is titled 'Mapping the Body', and Chapter 5 is titled "The Mind and Mental Illness". Some of the art is straightforwardly 'medical', in that it was produced and disseminated with the intention of teaching physicians or trainees about particular aspects of the body and its diseases and treatments (I use the term 'physician' here in a culturally broad sense--any person recognized as a healer in that person's society--since much of the art presented in this book comes from cultures whose healers employed practices and held theories quite different from modern western physicians). For example, écorché anatomical drawings, such as Mascagni's 'Stratum Primum' (1823), are themselves brilliant artworks but when first produced were principally textbook images.

Some of the art is not straightforwardly medical, but was rather intended as critical scrutiny of some aspect of medicine. Indeed, many artworks displayed in these pages represent medical nihilism. The interest of physicians in selling their services despite the health of their patients is portrayed in Temple West's 'An Address of Thanks from the Faculty to the Right Hon-ble, Mr Influenzy for his Kind Visit to this Country' (1803)--the physicians have padded their fees thanks to the spread of the virus. I have already mentioned Goya's 'Of What Illness Will He Die?' (c. 1797), in which a prominent physician is portrayed as a donkey. Numerous examples of medical ineptitude is portrayed in Utagawa Kuniyoshi's 'A Japanese Medico-Political Caricature' (c. 1850). The British artist William Hogarth (1696-1764) depicted physicians as quacks, one such painting here is titled simply 'Damn the Doctor' (18th century). A woodcut from 1537 titled 'Gout with Pluto, Jupiter, and Neptune' includes a figure holding a banner which reads "medicine cannot cure knotty gout." A skeleton is seen mixing a 'slow poison' in a painting by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) titled 'The English Dance of Death: the Apothecary' (1816). Rowlandson also satirizes surgery in a gruesome painting titled 'Amputation' (1793).

In case it is not already obvious, there are many artworks presented here which, to a modern eye, represent a scene or subject not merely curious but bizarre. For example, a 19thCentury Chinese depicts several patients, described in the title of the painting: "Men afflicted gonorrhea and a physician with a woman whose lower body is in the form of a snake." There she is, half woman, half snake. Making an old metaphor fresh, a lithograph by Fritz Kahn portrays the human body as an industrial factory ('Man as a Palace of Industry', 1930). Early modern anatomy books often included a piece titled 'wound man', which portrayed a figure who has been injured in many ways common at the time: stabbed by a sword, shot with an arrow, bit by a spider, and burned; three such images are presented here.  

Other gems in the collection include 'A Surgical Operation' (c. 1934) by Reginald Brill, in which the surgical team is portrayed in heroic stature, clean, strong, and focused. In contrast to the all-male surgical team of Brill's painting, Francis Dodd portrays a remarkable all-woman surgical team operating in London during the first world war ('An Operation for Appendicitis, at the Military Hospital, Endell Street, London', 1917). A brilliant and evocative painting is Luciano Nezzo's 'A Surgeon Holding a Dental Key Behind his Back to Conceal It From The Patient' (c. 1900). The bleak, sorrowful etching titled 'James Norris' (1814), by George Arnald, helped publicize the terrible treatment of incarcerated people with mental health problems at Bethlam hospital.

Recent works are also represented here. Beautiful examples include Ludovic Collin's 'Neurons in Culture' (2005), which employed fluorescence microscopy; Luke Jerram's 'H1N1 Swine Flu Virus' (2009), which is one of a series of colorless glass sculptures representing viruses, and Anna Tanczos's 'Common Cold Virus' (2008), produced digitally.

This is an impressive collection of art related in many ways to medicine. The captions and introductions to the sections of the book--written Julie Anderson, Emm Barnes, and Emma Shackleton--provide ample context to appreciate the works. The art displayed in this book makes me want to see the museum. I recommend the website in which one can view most of the images mentioned here, and I recommend the book. 


© 2014 Jacob Stegenga


Jacob Stegenga, Ph.D.,


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716