Solitary Vice
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)

An illustrated lecture with Dr. Simon Chaplin of the Wellcome Library, formerly of the Hunterian Museum.

In his watercolour of a ‘Persevering Surgeon’, the British artist Thomas Rowlandson made no bones about the darkly erotic nature of anatomical dissection. Poised over the body of a naked woman, erect knife in hand, Rowlandson’s anatomist conjured images of the other solitary vice that consumed later 18th century moralists and medical men. But like Rowlandson – who combined popular satirical illustration with a more discreet trade in pornographic imagery – anatomists maintained a delicate balance between personal pursuits and public propriety. In this lavishly illustrated lecture, Simon Chaplin explores the sexual undertones of the anatomy schools of Georgian London, in which students dissected grave-robbed bodies in the back-rooms of their teachers’ houses, while their masters explored new strategies for presenting their work to polite audiences through museums and lectures.