Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism

A lithograph of a death mask showing five divisions across the skull.

Title: Death mask of Eustache, a slave from the Dominican republic who came to be awarded a ‘prize for virtue’ in 1830’s Paris

Artist/Maker:

Date: ca. 1835

Source: Wellcome Collection

Copyright/Permissions: Death mask of Eustache, a slave from the Dominican republic who came to be awarded a ‘prize for virtue’ in 1830’s Paris. Lithograph, c. 1835. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Location(s): Dominican Republic

Commentary: From the working archive of “scientific” phrenologist, Bernard Hollander, this image depicts an enslaved man, Eustache, from the Dominican Republic who came to be awarded a “prize for virtue” in 1830’s Paris. This skull shows divisions or “bumps” that were studied to determine an individual’s character and abilities. This “prize of virtue” was awarded by white slave owners to Eustache after he assisted in the sabotage of a slave uprising. This image gives insight into the way in which Black people’s bodies were exploited for medical discoveries as well as how racial biases informed medical conclusions.

 

Art Hx