Fragment of skin of Jeremy Bentham, who was dissected in 1832, in frame
This skin fragment is from the dissected body of eminent English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The inscription reads: ‘Part of the skin of the late Jeremy Bentham Esq. Who bequeathed his Body for anatomical purposes, and was dissected, July 1832.’ Dissection was one way to teach medical students anatomy. However, many people saw the body as sacred and were fearful and distrustful of dissection of the dead opposed it.
Bentham left his body, thousands of books and a large estate to University College London. His instructions were to dissect, embalm and dress his body, and place it in a chair. This famous ‘auto-icon’ is still at the university.