Social satire, Medicine in art
Attesting to the popularity of Edward Ravenscroft’s The Anatomist is the eponymous print by Thomas Rowlandson, whose friend John Bannister (1760-1836) performed in the role of Crispin at Drury Lane. The print depicts a scene with Dr. Sawbones, his household servant Beatrice, and Crispin, the valet of Young Gerald, the love interest of the doctor’s daughter, Angelica. Secretly conspiring with Beatrice to enable the young lovers, Crispin is suddenly forced to disguise himself as a cadaver delivered for the doctor’s anatomy lecture. The ruse seems to work until the doctor decides to proceed with dissection immediately to demonstrate Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood. Although knowledgeable about medical theory, the doctor is too incompetent to recognize that a warm body with a beating heart must still be alive.
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
Thomas Tegg, London
Debra Cashion, in collaboration with Elisabeth Barrett, '15
Hand-colored etching; original dimensions, 342 x 244 mm
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), “The Anatomist,” The Anatomist: Early Modern Medical Satire, accessed February 20, 2018, http://anatomist.omeka.net/items/show/18.