Print. Phrenological illustrations, or the Science practically developed / Marks fect. - London Pubd by S.W. Fores, May 15th 1824. Etching, handcol; trimmed to platemark 25.5x36cm + 1cm conservation edging. Caricature: A young man in civilian dress, Battier, and two officers of Tenth Hussars, having their shaved heads inspected each by men of high fashion; pendant specimen skulls hang from hooks in background. Dedicated to the 'Commander in Chief' - central seated figure is identified by paper 'Cmdt Bat++', whose perfect head shape analysis 'won't do' [qualities too good]. BM 14657
This satirical print shows three seated men being assessed for their suitability for the Tenth Hussars (part of the British Army) using phrenology. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Hung from the ceiling among phrenological heads is a list of the qualities to be looked for. The head of the officer on the right indicates he has the quality of brutality, while the civilian with the normal shaped head is being rejected for being kind and civil.
Although practitioners of phrenology took the subject seriously many others, including most of the medical profession, saw the practice as quackery. Certainly, the artist of this print thought so, exaggerating the lumps and bumps of the skulls that phrenologists looked and felt for.