Bell’s Anatomy of Expression

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Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842) was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist, neurologist and philosophical theologian. Born in Edinburgh, he took his medical degree in 1798 and shortly after was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, where he operated and taught anatomy. He used his artistic talents to draw and publish anatomical treatises.  From 1812 to 1825, together with his brother, Bell ran the Great Windmill Street School of Anatomy, which had been founded by the anatomist William Hunter.

Bell took part in the Battle of Waterloo as a medical officer. Volunteering as a surgeon, he worked tirelessly in the treatment of the wounded, and documented his experiences through his drawings. In his studies from the Battle, he depicts his patients and their injuries in astonishing detail. The series provide a moving record of the horrific wounds dealt with by army surgeons in Wellington’s army.

The Library holds Bell’s treatise The anatomy and philosophy of expression as connected with the fine arts. Our seventh edition dates to 1880 and was published by George Bell & Sons of London. It was awarded to Alexander Ross of Manchester School of Art as a third grade prize. We also hold Bell’s 1833 volume on the mechanisms of the hand.

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