Print. Calves' Heads and Brains: or a phrenological lecture. / J. Lump [sic] delt. ; L. Bump [sic] Sc. - London Published Sepr 1826 for the Artist at St Peters alley Corn Hill. Etching, col., [sight] 24x31cm. Caricature: a phrenologist lectures to a crowded audience in room filled with plaster heads, books, skulls, pictures, topical references. Shelves include bottle of Gall; Franz Gall had lectured in London in 1823. Lecturer may be George Combe (1788-1858) phrenologist of Edinburgh; published Elements of Phrenology 1824 of which the 2nd edition was attacked in the Edinburgh Review, September 1826. Long caption below image his 'Concluding Address'. [BM 15158]
In the 1800s, phrenology became popular with large numbers of people but soon became controversial within medical circles. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. This print shows a caricature of a phrenologist who is lecturing to a crowded audience in room filled with plaster heads, books, skulls and pictures. Some of the audience are examining the shape of their own heads. The contents of the shelves include a bottle of Gall. This is a reference to Franz Gall (1758 –1828), a German physician and the founder of phrenology, who had lectured in London in 1823. He had worked with Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832), whose plaster cast model head is in the bottom right of the print.
The lecturer may be George Combe (1788-1858), an Edinburgh phrenologist who published Elements of Phrenology in 1824. The second edition of the book was attacked in the Edinburgh Review, September 1826. The print is signed by the ‘artists’ “L. Bump” and “J. Lump” – another way of mocking phrenologists.