The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination

Overview

Since ancient times people have depended on medical practitioners to enhance life, to treat illness and injuries, and to help reduce pain and suffering. The scientifically based discipline that we know today stands beside diverse traditions, belief systems, and bodies of medical knowledge that have evolved in fascinating ways across cultures and continents. Throughout this history, successive generations have created artistic representations of these varied aspects of medicine, illustrating instruction manuals, ...

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Overview

Since ancient times people have depended on medical practitioners to enhance life, to treat illness and injuries, and to help reduce pain and suffering. The scientifically based discipline that we know today stands beside diverse traditions, belief systems, and bodies of medical knowledge that have evolved in fascinating ways across cultures and continents. Throughout this history, successive generations have created artistic representations of these varied aspects of medicine, illustrating instruction manuals, documenting treatments, and creating works of art that enable individuals to express their feelings and ideas about medicine, health, and illness. From ancient wall paintings and tomb carvings to sculpture, installations, and digitally created artworks, the results are extraordinary and pay tribute to how medicine has affected our lives and the lives of our ancestors.  

           

Drawing on the remarkable holdings of the Wellcome Collection in London, The Art of Medicine offers a unique gallery of rarely seen paintings, artifacts, drawings, prints, and extracts from manuscripts and manuals to provide a fascinating visual insight into our knowledge of the human body and mind, and how both have been treated with medicine. Julie Anderson, Emm Barnes, and Emma Shackleton take readers on a fascinating visual journey through the history of medical practice, exploring contemporary biomedical images, popular art, and caricature alongside venerable Chinese scrolls, prehistoric Mesoamerican drawings, paintings of the European Renaissance, medieval Persian manuscripts, and more. The result is a rare and remarkable visual account of what it was and is to be human in sickness and health.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This astonishingly various visual encyclopedia, a fraction of the collection of the Wellcome Trust’s million objects (the trust is a British medical research foundation)—represents a wunderkammer focused on multifarious cross-cultural representations of the human body in anatomical studies, etchings, paintings, and advertisements. The book is organized thematically into six chapters about the body, medicine, disease, surgery, mental illness, and preventive medicine; each is replete with images accompanied by informative texts. Most fascinating are the sections on medicine, healing, and belief in ancient Egypt and Greece; traditional Chinese demon masks to scare off disease-causing evil spirits; and Christian imagery of, for example, a saint healing through touch and faith. The treatment of mental illness is illustrated with images from London’s notoriously brutal Bethlem Royal hospital (the original Bedlam). Several sections, particularly on anatomy and surgery, are not for the fainthearted. Compiled by medical historian Anderson, Royal Holloway University science outreach officer Barnes, and visual arts writer Shackleton, this visually arresting, wide-ranging, and informative collection pre-sents an encyclopedic global history of the body, illness, and medicine. 350 color and 50 b&w illus., all very well reproduced. (Feb.)
Nature

“Portrayals of our grapplings with disease pop up throughout history. Medical historian Julie Anderson, with science communicators Emm Barnes and Emma Shackleton, survey a range of works from London's Wellcome Collection that highlight medical practices, including paintings, anatomical drawings, scrolls and digital art. Two millennia of visual exploration from cultures such as ancient Persia and Renaissance Europe provide a stunning overview of how ideas about healing the body and mind have evolved.”
The Lancet

“Lucid, panoramic, and erudite. . . . The Art of Medicine make[s] a compelling case for the value of medical history and the medical humanities—not merely as an adjunct to the triumphs and travails of the medical profession, but as the best window we have on humanity’s efforts to comprehend its own condition.”—The Lancet

— Richard Barnett

Lancet
Lucid, panoramic, and erudite. . . . The Art of Medicine make[s] a compelling case for the value of medical history and the medical humanities—not merely as an adjunct to the triumphs and travails of the medical profession, but as the best window we have on humanity’s efforts to comprehend its own condition.

— Richard Barnett

Brooklyn Rail

"The Art of Medicine deserves to be lauded for the variety and visual clarity of its images. The juxtaposition of ancient and modern, realistic and abstract, primitive and academic images reminds the reader of the numerous ways in which the body's structure and functions have been represented over time."
New York Journal of Books
If pictures really were worth a thousand words, the selections contained here would equate to volumes of writings—serious, graphic novel, humorous, mysterious, fear-riddled, and awe-inspired. . . . With The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination on your lap, a faraway gallery is made available—a gallery in which the past and the current worlds appear, both filtered through the art of medicine.”

 

— Cynthia Doran

ARLIS/NA Reviews

“[V]isually stunning. . . . The book would be a useful addition to public libraries with art or medical collections, and would serve the undergraduate as well as the graduate student.”

 

Choice
[A] visual treat. . . . Anderson, Barnes, and Shackleton have created an incredible window into a major collection of immense importance featuring many rare and never before published objects, ephemera, and artwork. [The Art of Medicine] is a crossover book of great value to medical and art historians, ethnologists, and graphic designers. Highly recommended.

— I. Richman, Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

Lancet - Richard Barnett

“Lucid, panoramic, and erudite. . . . The Art of Medicine make[s] a compelling case for the value of medical history and the medical humanities—not merely as an adjunct to the triumphs and travails of the medical profession, but as the best window we have on humanity’s efforts to comprehend its own condition.”
New York Journal of Books - Cynthia Doran

“If pictures really were worth a thousand words, the selections contained here would equate to volumes of writings—serious, graphic novel, humorous, mysterious, fear-riddled, and awe-inspired. . . . With The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination on your lap, a faraway gallery is made available—a gallery in which the past and the current worlds appear, both filtered through the art of medicine.”

 

Choice - I. Richman

“[A] visual treat. . . . Anderson, Barnes, and Shackleton have created an incredible window into a major collection of immense importance featuring many rare and never before published objects, ephemera, and artwork. [The Art of Medicine] is a crossover book of great value to medical and art historians, ethnologists, and graphic designers. Highly recommended.”
Journal of the American Medical Association - Dorothy Porter

“[V]isually luxurious. . . . [The Art of Medicine] is a  dramatic sojourn chronicling grotesque, burlesque, and beautiful representations of the human experience of visceral existence and transformations in the depiction of its meaning, understanding, and intellectual significance in historical cultures.”
Library Journal
This collection of hundreds of diverse objects, illustrated in exceptional color plates and drawn mostly from London's Wellcome Collection, showcases the lore of illness, treatment, and wellness. Compiled by Anderson (history of medicine, Univ. of Kent), Emm Barnes (science outreach officer, Royal Holloway Univ.), and visual arts writer Emma Shackleton, these examples of art and artifacts depict medicine in perception and practice. The book aims to "arouse interest" in medicine and provides delightful, detailed visuals and explanations in six thematic sections. While many kinds of artistic styles and media are featured, only a few artists are spotlighted with their own subsections; however, artists in general are honored throughout as explorers and skillful recorders of scientific observation. VERDICT While this book lacks the scholarly depth of Jean Rousselot's Medicine in Art: a Cultural History (1967, o.p.), it shines via its eclectic juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary objects like amulets, outsider art, microscopic photos, and medieval manuscripts. An enticing medical cabinet of art curiosities, this book's offerings go down easily and make you want more. Highly recommended.—Marianne Laino Sade, Maryland Inst. Coll. of Art Lib., Baltimore
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226749365
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 604,606
  • Product dimensions: 12.20 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Anderson and Emm Barnes are science outreach officers with Royal Holloway, University of London. Emma Shackleton is an editor and writer specializing in the visual arts who has worked with the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London.
 

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