Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The Anatomist

This 1811 caricature shows a red-faced anatomist, knife in hand. Behind him, a young man had fallen asleep, and the anatomist had mistaken him for dead, covering him with a sheet. The young woman in the center of the image attempts to change the anatomist’s mind, but he appears ready to begin his dissection anyway. While this caricature is obviously not the whole story, it does represent the real fear at the time of having one’s grave desecrated and body dissected, or worse, as shown here, to be dissected while alive. Thomas Rowlandson (1756 –1827) was an English artist and caricaturist noted for his political satires and social observations. A prolific artist and printmaker, he produced many illustrations for novels, joke books, and topographical works.

The Anatomist by Thomas Rowlandson. 1811. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Winter 2020



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