'The Physiognomist', print, London, England, 1831

Made:
1831 in London
publisher:
Charles Tilt
artist:
George E Madeley
and
George Spratt

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Print. The Physiognomist. / G. Spratt delt. ; G.E. Madeley Lith. 3 Wellington St Strand. ; Published by C. Tilt, Fleet Street [London] 1831. Lithograph, handcol.; 27x21cm. Personification print, depicting a physiognomical or phrenological lecture in progress; the lecturer seated at a kneehole desk is fashioned from a variety of heads including turbanned and female; in the audience, artist has featured the head of a negro woman

‘Personifications’ are illustrations of people made up from the tools of their trade or the objects they are normally associated with. In this example, the main character’s body is made up from a number of different shapes and sizes of male and female heads. As the title suggests, this shows the practice of physiognomy – using facial characteristics to determine personality. It could also show the study of phrenology. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. In the audience, an African-American woman is awaiting consultation, an unusual feature in English prints from the 1830s.

George Spratt, the artist, who was also a man-midwife, collaborated on a number of these drawings with G E Madeley (active 1826-1854), a lithographer, and Charles Tilt (1797-1861), an English bookseller and publisher.

Details

Category:
Art
Object Number:
2002-611
Materials:
cardboard mount and paper (fibre product)
type:
print
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • visual and verbal communication
  • print
  • planographic print
credit:
Grosvenor Prints

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