When the first medical photographs were taken in 1840, the camera was presented as a revolution to medical education, psychiatry and pathology. Gradually, however, two things became apparent: medical photographs alienated the subject and they were, quite frankly, ugly. The concern with aesthetics and the relationship between the body and the patient would combine to shape the future of medical photography, and in some ways medicine itself.

Closely examining two cases – Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la Physionomie Humaine (1856), and Grant’s An Atlas of Anatomy (1962) – this talk considers the role of alienation and beauty in medical photography, and the evocative questions each raised for doctors.

Speaker: Dr Lauren Barnett (Birkbeck, University of London)