The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration

The nineteenth century experienced an explosion of epidemics such as cholera and diphtheria, driven by industrialization, urbanization and poor hygiene. In this pre-color-photography era, accurate images were relied upon to teach students and aid diagnosis. The best examples, featured here, are remarkable pieces of art that attempted to elucidate the mysteries of the body, and the successive onset of each affliction. Barnett illuminates the fears and obsessions of a society gripped by disease, yet slowly coming to understand and combat it. 

 

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