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Phrenological head of Francis Gall, London, England, 1823
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Phrenological head of Francis Gall, London, England, 1823, result 1 of 1

Item Details
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Title
Phrenological head of Francis Gall, London, England, 1823
Plaster phrenological head of Gall, founder of phrenology
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Work Type
Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Date
1823
Location
London
Measurements
overall: 305 mm x 210 mm x 220 mm, 3.52kg
Description
Plaster phrenological head of Gall, founder of phrenology, by James De Ville (1777-1846), Strand, London, 1823
Who is this handsome devil? A hero or a coward, a genius or a fool? Perhaps he was a great explorer or maybe an infamous criminal. What if you could read his true character simply by examining the shape of his head? This is actually German physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828). From the late 1700s, he studied whether the shape of the brain might actually relate to brain function " including an individual"s specific behaviours and talents. Based on his observations, Gall claimed that the brain contained "inner senses" whose development determined the shape of the brain and ultimately, the shape of the skull.
He and his follower Johann Spurzheim developed a method of interpreting a person's character by "reading" their skull. In 1805 they began a highly successful lecture tour of Europe to promote their new ideas. It became especially popular in England, where Gall's supporter Thomas Forster named the new discipline "phrenology" " meaning "science of the soul". In the early 1800s, all kinds of people, with little or no medical training, liked to engage in phrenology using plaster phrenological heads as maps for reading skull shapes. This was non-invasive and seemed to be a "scientific" way of detecting people's character and aptitudes. This head of Gall would have been part of a large reference set of different heads used to help teach the technique. However, phrenology became increasingly criticised by medical experts as speculative and unreliable, and cartoonists would often portray Gall and his followers as credulous fools. Now, phrenology has been dismissed as a way of understanding peoples" characters.
Repository
Science Museum, Making the Modern World Gallery
Accession Number
ID Number
co134363
Source
Image and original data from Science Museum Group
Rights
The source metadata displayed in the Description field is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
All other source metadata is released under Creative Commons Zero.
File Properties
File Name
large_1992_0034_0001__0003_.jpg
SSID
26313057

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