Tag Archives: Broadmoor

The Anatomist, The Alienist, The Artist & changing expressions of madness in Victorian Britain

JHN physiognomy comparison article
Left: Bell’s ‘The Maniac,’ 1806. Right: detail of Dadd’s ‘Agony– Raving Madness,’ 1854. Depictions contrasted in the article.

The Journal of the History of the Neurosciences has published an article online by S. Huddleston and G. A. Russell (out of the Department of Humanities in Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine) on the 19th century case of painter and murderer Richard Dadd.

The authors employ examples of Dadd’s art (the majority of which created during his incarceration at Bethlem and Broadmoor hospitals) as a lens to explore the shifting social politics of theories of physiognomy in clinical practice and public perception.  The idiosyncratic and atypical subjects of Dadd’s works defied both the early and over-determined categories of mad facial features championed by the renowned anatomist Charles Bell, and the nondistinctive challenge thereto by alienist Alexander Morison. In doing so, the authors argue, Dadd’s interpretation forshadowed more modern approaches to physiognomic diagnostics.

Find the abstract and full text here.

 

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