Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Grotesque and Gorgeous: 100,000 Art and Medicine Images Released for Open Use

William Cheselden, engraving showing the diseased part of a human skull, from "Osteographia, or the anatomy of the bones" (1733) (via )

The Wellcome Library in Londonthat they're releasing more than 100,000 high-resolutionfor Creative Commons use. While their digital resource joins those of other high-profile institutions , the Wellcome's archive is especially exciting because it contains unique collections relating to both art and medicine.

Earliest known herbal on papyrus (Egypt, c. 400) (via )

Part of the , which is perhaps the most delightfully and smartly eclectic museum on Earth, the Wellcome Library houses objects and artworks that range across the spectrum of history, art, culture, and, above all, the curious. The thousands of images now online show manuscripts, etchings, paintings, photographs, advertisements, and artifacts. The earliest is a small scrap from what's thought to be the oldest surviving herbal -- a book on medicinal plants -- on papyrus, from Ancient Egypt. There are also strange photographs of Salp tr re Hospital's hysteria and epilepsy patients, diagrams from Chinese traditional medicine, anatomical illustrations from all eras and all over the world, and even some small works by artists like van Gogh and Goya.

As Simon Chaplin, head of the Wellcome Library, :

Together the collection amounts to a dizzying visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation. As a strong supporter of open access, we want to make sure these images can be used and enjoyed by anyone without restriction.

The most exciting part of scrolling through the seemingly endless images is finding the frequent fusions of art and medicine. From wax and ivory models that show early knowledge of anatomy, and an odd embrace of beauty in death, to surgeon Charles Bell's visceral watercolors from the Waterloo battlefield, there's an ongoing visual dialogue within the field of medicine. Below are a few highlights from this area of overlap in the collection, although you shouldyourself, as this barely breaks the skin.

J.G. Salvage, "Anatomie du Galdiateur" (1812), illustration (via )

Magnus Hundt, diagram of a human head in a 1501 anthropology book (via )

Charles Bell, watercolor of a soldier suffering from a head wound, one of the surgeon's many depictions of wounded soldiers from the battle of Waterloo (1815) (via )

A vanitas tableau in wax, with one side resembling Queen Elizabeth I and the other, a skull swarming with insects and reptiles (18th century) (via )

Diagram of a plague amulet, from Oswald Croll's "Bazilica chymica, et praxis chymiatric , or Royal and practical chymistry in three treatises" (1670) (via )

The vivisector asked to choose between head and heart: photogravure (1886), after an etching by M.J. Holzapfl after a painting by Gabriel von Max (via )

Wang Weiyi, woodblock illustration of traditional Chinese medicine showing a middle-aged man with different anatomical channels (1909) (via )

A physician's handbook of practical medicine from Germany (16th century) (via )

Bernardino Rossi's notebook of surgical lectures showing different dental instruments (1738) (via )

Zhao Pei Qun, watercolor of a doctor feeling the pulse of a patient (via )

An ivory netsuke figure made by Chikaaki in Japan showing a doctor feeling the pulse of a patient (19th century) (via )

Designs for tattooing used in medicine, from the Journal of Anthropology (via )

James Dunthorne, colored etching of fever represented as a beast, with blue monster on the left representing ague and doctor on the right writing prescriptions (1788) (via )

A Tibetan chart for good and bad bloodletting days (via )

A nun being treated for a lacrimal fistula, from a book compiled for the use of a House of the Franciscan Order in Germany (1675) (via )

Two Victorian ear trumpets, one dressed for mourning (19th century) (via )

Antoine de Favray, "Saints Cosmas and Damian dressing a chest wound," oil painting (via )

W.R. Seton, "A periscope being used above an operation which is projected onto a lantern screen for a lecture in the adjoining room," gouache painting (via )

Hand-colored woodcut of female anatomy from Alain de Matonniere's 1650 "Anatomie tresutile pour congnoistre les parties interieures de la femme" (via )

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