Death in the Dissecting Room

Dublin Core

Title

Death in the Dissecting Room

Subject

Social satire, Medicine in art

Description

Rowlandson’s depiction of a working anatomy laboratory reflects the popular view of physicians as ghoulish and disrespectful of death. The doctor and his busy staff are conducting at least two dissections, one in the foreground and one in the background, while more bodies await preparation. One female body is callously left lying on the floor, and another still in a bag arrives through the door. The delivery man looks anxiously behind him, suggesting that the new body has been stolen or that the laboratory is operating outside of the law. Skeletons and specimen jars fill the room, and entrails and instruments (including the satirically ubiquitous clyster syringe) clutter the floor. A human skeleton representing Death ambushes the doctor with an arrow, suggesting that the body next in line for the dissection table will be his.

Creator

Thomas Rowlandson (1757 – 1827)

Source

Unpublished drawing for the William Combe, English Dance of Death, London: Ackerman (1814-1816)

Publisher

[no text]

Date

1815-1816

Contributor

Debra Cashion, in collaboration with Elisabeth Barrett, '15

Format

Watercolor drawing; original dimensions, 255 x 34 mm

Language

[no text]

Type

Still image

Identifier

[no text]

Coverage

[no text]

Files

DissectingRm_crop3.jpg

Collection

Citation

Thomas Rowlandson (1757 – 1827), “Death in the Dissecting Room,” The Anatomist: Early Modern Medical Satire, accessed November 23, 2017, http://anatomist.omeka.net/items/show/1.