sick rose

The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration



The Sick Rose is a visual tour through the golden age of medical illustration. The nineteenth century experienced an explosion of epidemics such as cholera and diphtheria, driven by industrialization, urbanization and poor hygiene. In this pre-color-photography era, accurate images were relied upon to teach students and aid diagnosis. The best examples, featured here, are remarkable pieces of art that attempted to elucidate the mysteries of the body, and the successive onset of each affliction. Bizarre and captivating images that cannot be unseen, including close-up details and revealing cross-sections, make all too clear the fascinations of both doctors and artists of the time. Richard Barnett illuminates the fears and obsessions of a society gripped by disease, yet slowly coming to understand and combat it. The age also saw the acceptance of vaccination and the germ theory, and notable diagrams that transformed public health, such as John Snow’s cholera map and Florence Nightingale’s pioneering histograms, are included and explained. Organized by disease, The Sick Rose ranges from little-known ailments now all but forgotten to the epidemics that shaped the modern age. It is a fascinating book that will enthrall artists, students, designers, scientists and the incurably curious everywhere.

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  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.; 1 edition (May 31, 2014)
  • Language: English

About the Author

Richard Barnett studied medicine before becoming a historian. His writing has appeared in The Lancet, The London Magazine, and The Natural Death Handbook. He is the author of Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures and The Sick Rose.

Additional information

Weight 2.2 lbs
Dimensions 1.2 x 7 x 10 in