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'Rare specimens of comparative craniology: An old maid's skull phrenologised', print, London, England, 1825-1835

Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Both the dog and its owner, Miss Strangeways, are being examined with an instrument of the phrenologist’s invention – the ‘Skullometer’. The name ‘Strangeways’ shows how absurd the caption writer thought the practice of phrenology was! The dog’s personality was ‘read’ and it was found to love children and be devoted to its owner. The animal and human phrenological heads pictured around the room suggest that we share similar characteristics. The artist of the satirical illustration was E F Lambert (active 1790-1846) and the engraver was F C Hunt (active 1825-1835).

Object number:

1981-820

 

Glossary:

Glossary: quack

Pertaining to or characterised by, boasting and pretension; used by quacks; pretending to cure diseases; as, a quack medicine; a quack doctor.

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.

Glossary: engraving

A technique to obtain prints from an engraved surface. Engraving is the practice of cutting into a hard, usually flat surface.

Glossary: satire

An artistic form where human actions and errors are mocked.