Mar 242017
 

William Burke death maskLibrary, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD

The advocates of the ‘science’ of phrenology claimed that the brain was composed of a number of organs, including organs of ‘destructiveness’ or ‘benevolence’ and ‘hope’. They believed that the character of a person could be determined from the shape of their skull, which mirrored the development of these organs. They were therefore very interested in collecting casts of the heads of remarkable people, whether geniuses or criminals. This is just such as cast of the head of the notorious murderer, William Hare, taken after his execution in 1829.

Entry to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is free.

L0022893 George Combe, names of phrenological organs, 1836 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Names of the phrenological organs Outlines of phrenology George A. Combe Published: 1836 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The phrenological organs, from George Combe, Outlines of Phrenology (1836).

Portrait of William Burke by George Andrew Lutenor; a portrait painter who was also one of the jurors at William Hare's trial, 1829.

Portrait of William Burke by George Andrew Lutenor; a portrait painter who was also one of the jurors at William Hare’s trial, 1829.

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