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'Phrenological Illustrations or the Science practically developed', print, London, England, 1824

This satirical print shows three seated men being assessed for their suitability for the Tenth Hussars (part of the British Army) using phrenology. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Hung from the ceiling among phrenological heads is a list of the qualities to be looked for. The head of the officer on the right indicates he has the quality of brutality, while the civilian with the normal shaped head is being rejected for being kind and civil. Although practitioners of phrenology took the subject seriously many others, including most of the medical profession, saw the practice as quackery. Certainly, the artist of this print thought so, exaggerating the lumps and bumps of the skulls that phrenologists looked and felt for.

Object number:

1983-700

 

Glossary:

Glossary: print

Pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes. When emphasizing the individual printed image, use "impressions." Avoid the controversial expression "original prints," except in reference to discussions of the expression's use. If prints are neither "reproductive prints" nor "popular prints," use just "prints."

Glossary: phrenology

The study of the bumps on the outside of the skull in order to determine a person's character. It was based on the mistaken theory that the skull becomes modified according to the size of different parts of the brain.