Grotesque Inspiration… Antique Illustrations of Deformity - CVLT Nation
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Grotesque Inspiration…
Antique Illustrations of Deformity

V0009875 Syphilis; severe lesions on face, 1855 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Pencil, white chalk and watercolour drawing illustrating severe pustule crustaceous lesions on the head of a man suffering from syphilis. The drawing at left shows a detail of the ulcerated lesion above his left eye. Watercolour 1855 By: Christopher D'AltonPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

When I am looking for artistic inspiration, one of the things I turn to frequently is antique medical illustration. While today’s medical aids are stark in their realism, the medical illustration of past centuries – even the photography of the 1800s and early 1900s – had a stylized and artistic approach, as if the aesthetic quality of the drawing was as important as the disease or deformity it was meant to portray for educational purposes. Today I’ve put together a collection of images that I find inspiring and beautiful to behold, ranging from the 1600s to the 1800s.   All images are CC via Wellcome Images.

 

 

V0009875 Syphilis; severe lesions on face, 1855 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Pencil, white chalk and watercolour drawing illustrating severe pustule crustaceous lesions on the head of a man suffering from syphilis. The drawing at left shows a detail of the ulcerated lesion above his left eye. Watercolour 1855 By: Christopher D'AltonPublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Pencil, white chalk and watercolour drawing illustrating severe pustule crustaceous lesions on the head of a man suffering from syphilis. The drawing at left shows a detail of the ulcerated lesion above his left eye.
Watercolour
1855 By: Christopher D’Alton

V0007384 Conjoint twins born at Palermo in 1755. Engraving by J. Avel Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Conjoint twins born at Palermo in 1755. Engraving by J. Aveline. after: Jean Alexandre AvelinePublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Conjoint twins born at Palermo in 1755. Engraving by J. Aveline. 

V0007351 Separate portraits of an albino negress, the siamese twins H Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Separate portraits of an albino negress, the siamese twins Hélène and Judith, and a girl with a skin disease who is called Maria Herig. Engraving. after: Jacques de SèvePublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Separate portraits of an albino negress, the siamese twins Hélène and Judith, and a girl with a skin disease who is called Maria Herig. Engraving.
after: Jacques de Sève Published: –

V0007345 Hélène and Judith, siamese twins known as The Hungarian Sist Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Hélène and Judith, siamese twins known as The Hungarian Sisters. Line engraving by J. Chevillet after De Sève. By: Jacques de Sèveafter: Juste ChevilletPublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Hélène and Judith, siamese twins known as The Hungarian Sisters. Line engraving by J. Chevillet after De Sève.
By: Jacques de Sèveafter: Juste Chevillet Published: –

V0007290 Master Vine, a child with deformed arms. Etching. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Master Vine, a child with deformed arms. Etching. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Master Vine, a child with deformed arms. Etching.
Published: –

V0007222 Iòao Baptista dos Santos, a diphallic boy with supernumerary Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Iòao Baptista dos Santos, a diphallic boy with supernumerary legs. Lithograph by W. Kohler. after: W KohlerPublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Iòao Baptista dos Santos, a diphallic boy with supernumerary legs. Lithograph by W. Kohler.
after: W KohlerPublished: –

V0007213 Roddy Rodgers, a man without arms. Etching by J. Basire. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Roddy Rodgers, a man without arms. Etching by J. Basire. after: James BasirePublished:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Roddy Rodgers, a man without arms. Etching by J. Basire.
after: James BasirePublished: –

V0007158 Johann Kleyser, a man born without arms. Aquatint. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Johann Kleyser, a man born without arms. Aquatint. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Johann Kleyser, a man born without arms. Aquatint.
Published: –

V0007150 Israel, a man with a figure protruding from his chest. Line Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Israel, a man with a figure protruding from his chest. Line engraving. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Israel, a man with a figure protruding from his chest. Line engraving.
Published: –

V0007140 Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by S. Ireland, 1787, after F. Grose. 1787 By: Francis Groseafter: Samuel IrelandPublished: 28 May 1787 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by S. Ireland, 1787, after F. Grose.
1787 By: Francis Groseafter: Samuel IrelandPublished: 28 May 1787

V0007139 Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by T. Inglefield, 1787, after C.R. Ryley. 1787 By: Charles Reuben Ryleyafter: Thomas Inglefield and James Fittler and RobertsonPublished: Publish'd as the Act directs Decr. 1787 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs. Etching by T. Inglefield, 1787, after C.R. Ryley.
1787 By: Charles Reuben Ryleyafter: Thomas Inglefield and James Fittler and RobertsonPublished: Publish’d as the Act directs Decr. 1787

V0007138 Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs, aged twenty Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs, aged twenty. Engraving, 1804. 1804 Published: 22 December 1804 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thomas Inglefield, an artist born without limbs, aged twenty. Engraving, 1804.
1804 Published: 22 December 1804

V0007123 Miss Hawtin, born without arms. Etching. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Miss Hawtin, born without arms. Etching. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Miss Hawtin, born without arms. Etching.
Published: –

V0007071 Jeffery Dunstan, a deformed eccentric. Stipple engraving by Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Jeffery Dunstan, a deformed eccentric. Stipple engraving by R. Page, 1821. 1821 after: R. PagePublished: 31 March 1821 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Jeffery Dunstan, a deformed eccentric. Stipple engraving by R. Page, 1821.
1821 after: R. PagePublished: 31 March 1821

V0006989 Sarah Biffin, a limbless painter. Engraving by R.W. Sievier, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Sarah Biffin, a limbless painter. Engraving by R.W. Sievier, 1821, after Sarah Biffin. 1821 By: Sarah Biffinafter: Robert William SievierPublished: June 1821 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Sarah Biffin, a limbless painter. Engraving by R.W. Sievier, 1821, after Sarah Biffin.
1821 By: Sarah Biffinafter: Robert William SievierPublished: June 1821

L0074319 Plate XLV, female with Ichthyosis unilateralus 1896 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Plate XLV female with Icthyosis unilateralus, chin to upper thigh including arms 1896 Atlas of the diseases of the skin / H. Radcliffe Crocker Published: 1896. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Plate XLV female with Icthyosis unilateralus, chin to upper thigh including arms
1896 Atlas of the diseases of the skin /
H. Radcliffe Crocker
Published: 1896.

L0061144 Patient affected with ichthyosis hystrix of unusual extent Credit: St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives & Museum, Wellcome Images. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Watercolour and ink drawing of the front of a patient treated in the 1st Physician Ward, Medical College, Calcutta, India, illustrating ichthyosis hystrix of unusual extent. A large part of the skin of the trunk on the right side is occupied by a black warty growth. This extends upwards to the occipital region of the scalp. From the lateral aspect of the main mass three projections pass towards the front. Of these one occupies the right shoulder and upper part of the pectoral regions, a second the right axilla, and a third the right hypochondrium. Upon the skin of the right arm are two long linear growths of a similar character. 6 Apr 1906 By: Das, Behari LalSt Bartholomew's Hospital Archives & Museum Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Watercolour and ink drawing of the front of a patient treated in the 1st Physician Ward, Medical College, Calcutta, India, illustrating ichthyosis hystrix of unusual extent. A large part of the skin of the trunk on the right side is occupied by a black warty growth. This extends upwards to the occipital region of the scalp. From the lateral aspect of the main mass three projections pass towards the front. Of these one occupies the right shoulder and upper part of the pectoral regions, a second the right axilla, and a third the right hypochondrium. Upon the skin of the right arm are two long linear growths of a similar character.
6 Apr 1906 By: Das, Behari Lal St Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives & Museum
Published: –

L0041575 Monster and Siamese twins Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org (Left) A monstorous figure, with a scaly leg, wings instead of arms, and a horn on his head. (Right) Siamese twins. One of the twins is not fully developed and is fully supported by the other. 1585 By: Giovanni Battista CavalieriMonsters; biblical, historical, and moral subjects; landscapes; allegories. Album of engravings, ca. 1585-1612 Published: 1585. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


(Left) A monstorous figure, with a scaly leg, wings instead of arms, and a horn on his head.
(Right) Siamese twins. One of the twins is not fully developed and is fully supported by the other.
1585 By: Giovanni Battista CavalieriMonsters; biblical, historical, and moral subjects; landscapes; allegories. Album of engravings, ca. 1585-1612
Published: 1585.

L0041573 Title page and Siamese twins Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The title page of Cavalieri's work, along with a picture of male Siamese twins. 1585 By: Giovanni Battista CavalieriMonsters; biblical, historical, and moral subjects; landscapes; allegories. Album of engravings, ca. 1585-1612 Published: 1585. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The title page of Cavalieri’s work, along with a picture of male Siamese twins.
1585 By: Giovanni Battista CavalieriMonsters; biblical, historical, and moral subjects; landscapes; allegories. Album of engravings, ca. 1585-1612
Published: 1585.

L0038404 Illustrations to denounce the crimes of the corset Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org 2 Illustrations to denounce the crimes of the corset and how it cripples and restricts the bodily organs in women. Engraving 1908 Published:  -  Printed: 10th October 1908 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

2 Illustrations to denounce the crimes of the corset and how it cripples and restricts the bodily organs in women.
Engraving
1908 Published: –
Printed: 10th October 1908

L0033300 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities
Engraving
1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii… qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit
Fortunio Liceti Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

L0033299 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities
Engraving
1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii… qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit
Fortunio Liceti Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

L0033298 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities
Engraving
1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii… qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit
Fortunio Liceti Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

L0033297 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities
Engraving
1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii… qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit
Fortunio Liceti Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

L0033296 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities, one male and one female figure Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities, one male and one female figure
Engraving
1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii… qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit
Fortunio Liceti Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

L0006922 Giants and dwarfs of the same age. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Giants and dwarfs of the same age. Anomalies and curiosities of medicine : George M. Gould Published: 1901, c1896. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Giants and dwarfs of the same age.
Anomalies and curiosities of medicine :
George M. Gould
Published: 1901, c1896.

L0016284 Conjoined twins Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Conjoined twins Observationes medicae. Editio nova Nicolaus Tulpius Published: 1652 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Conjoined twins
Observationes medicae. Editio nova
Nicolaus Tulpius
Published: 1652

L0023728 J. Boruwlaski, Memoirs of the celebrated dwarf... Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Frontispiece facing English Memoirs of the celebrated dwarf, Joseph Boruwlaski, a Polish gentelman, containing a faithful and curious account of his birth, education, marriage, travels and voyages Joseph Boruwlaski Published: 1788 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Frontispiece facing English
Memoirs of the celebrated dwarf, Joseph Boruwlaski, a Polish gentelman, containing a faithful and curious account of his birth, education, marriage, travels and voyages
Joseph Boruwlaski
Published: 1788

L0023731 J.F. Mekel, De duplicitate monstrosa...1815 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org J.F. Meckel, Conjoined twins. De duplicitate monstrosa commentarius Johann Friedrich II Meckel Published: 1815 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

J.F. Meckel, Conjoined twins.
De duplicitate monstrosa commentarius
Johann Friedrich II Meckel
Published: 1815

L0023732 Palfyn, Description anatomique des parties... Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two conjoined twins, both born on 28 April 1703. Engraving 1708 Description anatomique des parties de la femme, qui servent a la generation; avec un Traite des monstres  Jean PalfynFortunio Liceti Published: 1708 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two conjoined twins, both born on 28 April 1703.
Engraving
1708 Description anatomique des parties de la femme, qui servent a la generation; avec un Traite des monstres
Jean Palfyn Fortunio Liceti
Published: 1708

L0023733 E. Home, An account of a child with a double head. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Child with double head lying on his back. An ccount of a child with a double Head Everard Home Published: 1790 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Child with double head lying on his back.
An ccount of a child with a double Head
Everard Home
Published: 1790

L0023734 E. Home; An account of a child with a double head. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Child with double head. An account of a child with a double head. Everard Home Published: 1790 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Child with double head.
An account of a child with a double head.
Everard Home
Published: 1790

L0027956 B. C. Hirst & G. A. Piersol, Human monstrosities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org John Baptist dos Santos and la dame a quatre jambes. Human monstrosities B.C. Hirst and G.A. Piersol Published: 1893 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

John Baptist dos Santos and la dame a quatre jambes.
Human monstrosities
B.C. Hirst and G.A. Piersol
Published: 1893

L0029106 E. Home; Account of Child with a double head. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Child with double head at age twenty months. Account of child with a double head Everard Home Published: 1790 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Child with double head at age twenty months.
Account of child with a double head
Everard Home
Published: 1790

L0029107 Everard Home; Account of child with a double head. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Child with double head at age twenty months. An account of child with a double head Everard Home Published: 1790 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Child with double head at age twenty months.
An account of child with a double head
Everard Home
Published: 1790

L0033295 Two human figures with abnormalities Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two human figures with abnormalities Engraving 1665 De monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii... qui monstra quaedam nova & rariora ex recentiorum scriptis addidit Fortunio LicetiGerardus Blasius Published: 1665 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two human figures with abnormalities
Engraving
Gerardus Blasius
Published: 1665

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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