Human skin from whole chest of man, tattooed with various motifs, French, 1830-1900, purchased from La Valette in 1929
Tattooed with a figure of a man with a large dagger surrounded by female angels with trumpets, this piece of human skin was purchased by one of Henry Wellcome’s collecting agents. The agent was Captain Johnston-Saint, who bought it in June 1929 from Dr Villette, a Parisian surgeon. Villette worked in military hospitals and collected and preserved hundreds of samples from the autopsies of French soldiers. In the late 1800s, tattoos were often seen as markers of criminal tendencies, or ‘primitiveness’. Medical men tried to interpret common images and symbols. Tattoos were also used as a tool for identification, a practice that continues today.
- Anatomy & Pathology
- Object Number:
overall (in frame): 472 mm x 472 mm x 42 mm, 3.32 kg
- visual and verbal communication
- Wellcome Trust
Cite this page
We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.
Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero
Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence
Download catalogue entry as json
View manifest in IIIF viewer
Download manifest IIIF
Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.