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Profession, Prevention and Prescription at the V&A

Georgia Lauren Cherry

 

C. L. Dodgson (a.k.a Lewis Carroll), The Anatomy Lesson with Dr. George Rolleston (ca.1857) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints, Drawings and Paintings: E.1145-2008.

C. L. Dodgson (a.k.a Lewis Carroll), The Anatomy Lesson with Dr. George Rolleston (ca.1857), Museum no. E.1145-2008. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Boasting a combined collection of over 2,000,000 artefacts the V&A is often noted as the world’s greatest museum of decorative arts and design .[1]  With galleries dedicated to ceramics, sculpture, architecture, print and performance, its collections range from Fashion, Textiles and Furniture, to Metalwork and Photography. Yet despite efforts to display the greatest possible range of artefacts, many of its acquisitions are inevitably overlooked in light of the collections’ scope and scale, as well as the inherently material focus.

The medical and scientific artefacts held by the V&A serve as a valuable example. Falling outside the museum’s central remit, such objects are rarely the focus of attention. However, the developing trends in the material culture of science and medicine arguably commend their revision. With this in mind, this article promotes such material and highlights the interdisciplinary potential of the collections. Focusing on the material culture of medicine, it groups prints, photographs, ceramics and other objects under the themes of Profession, Prevention, and Prescription, with the intention of reframing our perception of the V&A collections.

 

Profession

W. Hogarth, Arms of the Undertakers’ Company (18th Century) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints, Drawings and Paintings: DYCE.2737.

W. Hogarth, Arms of the Undertakers’ Company (18th Century), Prints, Drawings and Paintings, Museum no. DYCE.2737. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

P. Long, Trade Card for Mr John Hayman, Physician and Surgeon, Golden Square, London, (1786), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints, Drawings and Paintings: E.34-1949

P. Long, Trade Card for Mr John Hayman, Physician and Surgeon, Golden Square, London, (1786), Prints, Drawings and Paintings, Museum no. E.34-1949. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

E. Kean, A Dutch Physician (18th Century) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints, Drawings and Paintings: S.698:3-1997

E. Kean, A Dutch Physician (18th Century), Prints, Drawings and Paintings, Museum no. S.698:3-1997. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

B.450-1994

J. Rueff, De Conceptu, et Generatione Hominis (Book) (1587), Prints, Drawings and Paintings, Museum no. B.450-1994. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

Prevention

Jurmain, ‘Baby Think It Over’; Realcare Baby (1999) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum of Childhood: B.158:1-14-2011

Jurmain, ‘Baby Think It Over’; Realcare Baby (1999), Museum of Childhood, Museum no. B.158:1-14-2011. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Unknown, Pomander (ca.1350) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Metalwork: M.205:1 to 3-1925

Unknown, Pomander (ca.1350), Metalwork, Museum no. M.205:1 to 3-1925. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

A. Brooking, ‘Would You Be More Careful if You Got Pregnant?’ (1969) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints and Drawings: E.1704-2004

A. Brooking, ‘Would You Be More Careful if You Got Pregnant?’ (1969), Prints and Drawings, Museum no. E.1704-2004. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Unknown, Exercise Chair (1790-1820) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Furniture: W.70-1926

Unknown, Exercise Chair (1790-1820), Furniture, Museum no. W.70-1926. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

Prescription

 

Unknown, Medicine Spoon (ca.1850) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum of Childhood: B.201-1996

Unknown, Medicine Spoon (ca.1850) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum of Childhood: B.201-1996

G. Scamell, National Photographic Record and Survey, Ward at Christ’s Hospital London (1899) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints, Drawings and Paintings: E.3471-2000

G. Scamell, National Photographic Record and Survey, Ward at Christ’s Hospital London (1899), Prints, Drawings and Paintings, Museum no. E.3471-2000. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Hogarth, ‘Bedlam’, of A Rake’s Progress (18th Century) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Prints and Drawings: DYCE.625

Hogarth, ‘Bedlam’, of A Rake’s Progress (18th Century), Prints and Drawings, Museum no. DYCE.625. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Unknown, Bleeding Dish (18th Century) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Metalwork: M.1067-1926

Unknown, Bleeding Dish (18th Century), Metalwork, Museum no. M.1067-1926. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Unknown, Gout Chair (ca.1800) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Furniture and Woodwork:W.103-1978

Unknown, Gout Chair (ca.1800), Furniture and Woodwork, Museum no. W.103-1978. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Unknown, Drug Jar (1530-1550), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Ceramics: 1117-1901

Unknown, Drug Jar (1530-1550), Ceramics, Museum no. 1117-1901. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

 


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Georgia Lauren Cherry –

Georgia joined the V&A/RCA MA in 2012 following her degree in History and Art History at the University of Nottingham. Interested in the history and material culture of medicine, socially responsive design and interdisciplinary practice, she is currently assisting projects at the Helen Hamlyn Centre and the Science Museum. Her thesis considers the dissemination and application of early x-ray technology as a case study of processes of ‘closure’ and ‘stabilisation’.

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© Georgia Lauren Cherry, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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